Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why does an anti-anthrax drug kill plants too?

12.05.2004


Scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich have today reported that a very successful antibiotic, which is harmless to humans but lethal to most bacteria, also kills plants. They have found that an enzyme, which is an important target for several families of antibiotics and was thought to exist only in bacteria, is also present in plants. The discovery sheds further light on plant evolution and highlights a potential area for development of new herbicides, while it has no significance with regard to the medical use and efficacy of the antibiotic. The discovery is reported online and in the latest volume of the international scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.



“Our interest is in the structure of DNA and in particular in an enzyme called DNA gyrase, which is crucial for maintaining the structure of the DNA molecule in bacteria” says Professor Tony Maxwell (Head of Biological Chemistry at JIC). “The antibiotic ciprofloxacin (Cipro), made famous in 2001 during the anthrax attacks in the US, targets DNA gyrase which, until now, we thought was a bacterial ‘Achilles heel’ because it had only been found in bacteria. However, we have now discovered that plants are sensitive to Cipro and that is because DNA gyrase is also important in plants”.

Working with the common weed Thale Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) Dr. Melisa Wall, a member of Prof. Maxwell’s team at JIC, found DNA gyrase in both the chloroplasts and mitochondria in plant cells. These tiny structures (called organelles) are responsible for carrying out photosynthesis and respiration respectively. Scientists think that organelles originated from bacteria that were able to live in plant cells and over evolutionary time they eventually became highly specialised to perform particular functions for the cells they were living in. The fact that the organelles still use DNA gyrase is an echo of their distant past as free-living bacteria.


Plants manage their DNA in a very different way from bacteria and have no use for DNA gyrase. Yet the relationship between the organelles and the plant cell has become so sophisticated and intimate that the genes encoding DNA gyrase are actually present in the DNA molecule of the plant nucleus, not in the organelles themselves. When the DNA gyrase enzyme is produced in the plant cell it is tagged with a fragment of protein that directs it to the appropriate organelle, where it carries out its function of DNA maintenance.

“The discovery that Cipro can kill plants raises the possibility of developing new herbicides based on the structure of Cipro and other drugs that target DNA gyrase” says Dr Wall. “Cipro kills bacteria very effectively but has low animal toxicity. We are now studying the DNA gyrases found in plants and bacteria to see if we can exploit differences between them to selectively kill plants while leaving other organisms, especially bacteria, unaffected”.

Ray Mathias | alfa
Further information:
http://jic.ac.uk

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>