Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Picture this -- biosecurity seen from the inside


When plants come under attack internal alarm bells ring and their defence mechanisms swing into action - and it happens in the space of just a few minutes. Now, for the first time, plant scientists - including experts from The University of Nottingham - have imaged, in real time, what happens when plants beat off the bugs and respond to disease and damage.

The research, "A fluorescent hormone biosensor reveals the dynamics of jasmonate signalling in plants", was carried out by an interdisciplinary team from the UK, France and Switzerland and has been published in the leading academic journal Nature Communications.

The Jas9-VENUS biosensor responds to changes in jasmonic acid levels.

Credit: The Centre for Plant Integrative Biology

Malcolm Bennett, Professor in Plant Science at The University of Nottingham and Director of the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, said: "Understanding how plants respond to mechanical damage, such as insect attack, is important for developing crops which cope better under stress."

Their research focussed on the plant hormone jasmonic acid which is part of the plant's alarm system and defence mechanism. Jasmonic acid is released during insect attack and controls the response to damage. Disease can also trigger jasmonic acid - so it's a general defence compound.

Professor Bennett said: "We have created a special fluorescent protein - Jas9-VENUS - that is rapidly degraded after jasmonic acid is produced. This allowed us to monitor where jasmonic levels are increased when the fluorescent signal is lost."

Using a blade to damage a leaf the research team mimicked an insect feeding. With the fluorescent protein they were able to image how damage to a leaf quickly results in a pulse of jasmonic acid that reaches all the way down to the tip of the root, at a speed of more than a centimetre per minute. Once this hormone pulse reaches the root it triggers more jasmonic acid to be produced locally, amplifying the wounding signal and ensuring other parts of the plant are prepared for attack.

Professor Bennett said: "Jasmonic acid triggers the production of defence compounds like protease inhibitors to stop the insect being able to digest the plant proteins - the plant becomes indigestible and the insect stops eating it."

Laurent Laplaze, a group leader at IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement) in Montpellier, described the new biosensor used to pinpoint what happens when plants are damaged. He said: "The Jas9-VENUS biosensor responds to changes in jasmonic acid levels in plant cells within a few minutes. Our new biosensor now allows us to see exactly where jasmonic acid is being perceived by the plant, but in a quantifiable way."

The new biosensor can be used to understand how the plant can coordinate a defence response. Teva Vernoux, a CNRS group leader at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon, said: "The amazing sensitivity of our new biosensor allows us to follow in real time how jasmonic acid levels are modified in a tissue when a mechanical damage occurs in another tissue some distance away. This really opens the possibility to understand changes in the physiology at the whole plant level upon stress or damage."

This research was partly funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), the Agropolis Fondation, and the Région Languedoc-Roussillon.

Lindsay Brooke | EurekAlert!

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Lego-like wall produces acoustic holograms
17.10.2016 | Duke University

nachricht New evidence on terrestrial and oceanic responses to climate change over last millennium
11.10.2016 | University of Granada

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>