Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How plant cell compartments "chat" with each other

04.11.2015

A team of researchers led by scientists from the University of Bonn has discovered a basis of communication in plant cells: The "MICU" protein controls the calcium ion concentration in the cellular power stations. Using these chemical signatures, the plants regulate, for instance, the formation of organs and react to water stress. The results may be used in the future to optimize agricultural crops. The reputable journal "The Plant Cell" reports on the results in its current issue.

Plants react to stimuli from their environment by specific responses: If available water becomes limiting, they curb evaporation from their leaves. If a pathogen attacks, they arm themselves with chemical weapons. If a soil fungus wishes to collaborate with a plant root for mutual benefit, both partners discuss their duties.


The fluorescent sensor protein provides information on the calcium ion concentration in mitochondria in real time. Blue indicates low, green, medium and red, high concentrations.

© Photo: Dr. Stephan Wagner

"All of these fine adjustments require a great deal of communication between the individual compartments of the plant cell," says Dr. Markus Schwarzlaender, principle investigator of an Emmy Noether group at the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation at the University of Bonn.

When the various components of plant cells communicate with another, they do not use words but calcium ions, i.e. positively charged calcium atoms, instead.

"The information is encoded in the fluctuations of the calcium concentration of the various cell compartments," explains Dr. Schwarzlaender. How can a single ion contain and transduce so much information? This is the question scientists have been asking themselves since it became known how various cell compartments "chat" with each other.

The "MICU" protein is a central relay station

The team of Dr. Schwarzlaender, together with scientists from Italy, France, England, Australia and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and the University of Muenster, have now shed light on this question.

Investigating the cellular power stations (mitochondria) of thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), the scientists discovered that the "MICU" protein fulfills a central role in the control of the calcium ion concentration in the mitochondria.

"In mammals, there is a very similar protein which also regulates the concentration of calcium ions," says Dr. Stephan Wagner from the team working with Dr. Schwarzlaender. Like a turbocharger, it prompts the mitochondria of mammals to provide more energy.

The scientists speculated that this could be an interesting candidate, but they were taken by surprise when they found the closely related plant-based "MICU" to be a central relay station in the communication system of Arabidopsis. "The two, similar proteins in animals and plants have evidently arisen from a common ancestor but over the course of millennia, they have developed distinct characteristics," says Dr. Schwarzlaender.

Fluorescing cellular power stations provide information

By destroying the gene with the MICU blueprint in the Arabidopsis genome, the researchers were able to experimentally explore what influence the protein has on the calcium communication of the plant cells. They equipped the mitochondria with a fluorescing sensor protein.

Using the variable fluorescence intensities of the sensor, it was possible to visualize changes in the calcium concentrations of the cellular power stations in the living plants. "We were able to identify a clear influence on the communication of the mitochondria," reports Dr. Wagner. Knockout of the MICU gene resulted, among other consequences, in modified properties of cell respiration.

"With our findings, we have established a basis for influencing the calcium signals in specific parts of the plant cell," Dr. Schwarzlaender summarizes. Since Arabidopsis is considered to be an experimental model for plants in general, the findings may be usable in the future for optimizing crops.

Looking ahead the researchers note that if, for example, specific plants could be taught to ally themselves with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria via modified calcium signals, a large amount of fertilizer used in agriculture may be saved.

Publication: The EF-Hand Ca2+ Binding Protein MICU Choreographs Mitochondrial Ca2+ Dynamics in Arabidopsis, journal “The Plant Cell“, DOI: 10.1105/tpc.15.00509

Contact information:

Dr. Markus Schwarzlaender
Plant Energy Biology Lab
Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation
University of Bonn
Tel. ++49-228-7354266
E-Mail: markus.schwarzlander@uni-bonn.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.plantcell.org/content/early/2015/11/03/tpc.15.00509.abstract Publication

Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de/

Further reports about: Arabidopsis Ca2+ calcium ions conservation mitochondria plant cell plant cells

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Show me your leaves - Health check for urban trees
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Liver Cancer: Lipid Synthesis Promotes Tumor Formation
12.12.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>