Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Feeding caterpillars make leaves shine

05.06.2015

Scientists visualize calcium signals in plants which are elicited by wounding and ultimately regulate defense responses against herbivores.

When a plant is attacked by herbivores, this triggers a number of physiological responses in the plant. Calcium ions are important messengers for the processing of wound signals in plant cells. They regulate signal transduction and indirectly control plant defense mechanisms.


The image shows the amounts of light accumulated over a period of 30 minutes, highlighting the changing calcium concentrations. These are represented by a color code (blue=low, red=high).

Victoria Kiep / Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg; Jyothilakshmi Vadassery / Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology


Spodoptera littoralis larva feeding on a Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress) plant

Sandra Scholz and Monika Heyer / Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

Scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena and the Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Science of the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, have now succeeded in visualizing the immediate wound or herbivory responses in plants.

They used Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress) plants that produce a special protein which breaks down after the binding of calcium ions and emits free energy in the form of light. The amount of light corresponds to the calcium concentrations in the cells of the respective leaf areas. By using a highly sensitive camera system the researchers could track the calcium flow in the plants.

Visualization revealed that calcium signals occur systemically and wander from attacked to neighboring leaves within a short period of time, and ultimately put the whole plant into a state of defense readiness. (New Phytologist, May 2015)

Calcium is a universal intracellular messenger. In plants, many physiological processes are mediated by calcium ions, especially responses to abiotic and biotic stresses, such as feeding caterpillars. These trigger the activation of a number of defense mechanisms. If a leaf is attacked by an insect, the wound signal which emanates from the affected leaf is transmitted to other, unattacked leaves.

In order to visualize this signal, the scientists performed experiments with transgenic Arabidopsis plants which were genetically modified to express a protein in the cytosol, the liquid inside the cells, which breaks down and releases light energy after it has bound calcium ions. The emitted light energy correlates with the respective concentrations of calcium ions.

In this way, intracellular changes of calcium levels can be determined directly. Moreover, these processes can be made visible in the plants by applying a highly sensitive camera system which uses charge-coupled devices (CCD). “It is very impressive to see how every bite of a caterpillar makes certain leaf areas shine. The immediate reaction of the plants is clearly visible,” says Victoria Kiep, who carried out most of the experimental work together with Jyothilakshmi Vadassery.

It was very important for the researchers to show that the calcium signal is a systemic process, rather than a local one, as it wanders from the attacked leaf to neighboring leaves within a few minutes to trigger the subsequent defense responses. “We succeeded in visualizing the dynamic signal processing of intracellular calcium as a secondary messenger which is elicited by insect feeding and transmitted systemically to unattacked areas of the plant,” Axel Mithöfer, the leader of the project group “Physiology of Plant Defense” in the Department of Bioorganic Chemistry, summarizes the results of the study.

How calcium signals are elicited in different and separate areas of plants is not yet fully understood. However, the scientists speculate that electric signals which are transmitted via the vascular system of plants, so-called vascular bundles, play an important role. There are no important differences between calcium signals which are elicited by mechanical wounding and those which are triggered by feeding caterpillars. Surprisingly, the application of larval oral secretions inhibited the transduction of calcium signals to neighboring leaves in the experiment. Of general importance for systemic calcium signaling is the wounding of the vascular system of the leaf, which is also responsible for the internal transport of water and nutrients in the plant.

Further experiments are planned in order to find out which kind of wounding triggers the systemic calcium signal, for example, whether a similar wound response is elicited by aphids and spider mites, as these insects puncture the plant tissue to suck the plant sap and damage the tissue only slightly. The scientists would like to investigate how signal transduction is achieved in grasses whose vascular bundles are structured differently in comparison to Arabidopsis which belongs to the Brassicaceae family. They are also interested in determining the operating distance of calcium signals in general and would like to answer the question whether the signals can be transmitted to the plant roots.

This study demonstrates that calcium signals, which are necessary for eliciting plant defense responses, and their spatial and temporal expansion can be visualized. Moreover, the scientists showed that calcium signaling can be studied directly in intact plants in different physiological and ecological contexts, which helps to better understand its role as a secondary messenger in plants. [AO/AM]

Original Publication:
Kiep, V., Vadassery, J., Lattke, J., Maaß, J.-P., Boland, W., Peiter, E., Mithöfer, A. (2015). Systemic cytosolic Ca2+ elevation is activated upon wounding and herbivory in Arabidopsis. New Phytologist. doi: 10.1111/nph.13493
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nph.13493

Further Information:
Dr. Axel Mithöfer, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, 07745 Jena, Tel. +49 3641 57-1263, E-Mail amithoefer@ice.mpg.de

Contact and Picture Requests:
Angela Overmeyer M.A., Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Str. 8, 07743 Jena, +49 3641 57-2110, E-Mail overmeyer@ice.mpg.de

Download von hochaufgelösten Fotos über http://www.ice.mpg.de/ext/downloads2015.html

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.ice.mpg.de/ext/1214.html
http://www.ice.mpg.de/ext/520.html (Research Group Defense Physiology)

Angela Overmeyer | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>