Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant pest reprogramme the roots

29.09.2015

Microscopic roundworms (nematodes) live like maggots in bacon: They penetrate into the roots of beets, potatoes or soybeans and feed on plant cells, which are full of energy. But how they do it precisely was previously unknown. Scientists at the University of Bonn together with an international team discovered that nematodes produce a plant hormone to stimulate the growth of specific feeding cells in the roots. These cells provide the parasite with all that it needs. The results are now published in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America" (PNAS).

The beet cyst nematode (Heterodera schachtii) is a pipsqueak of less than a millimetre in length, but it causes huge yield losses in sugar beet. Not only are infected beets smaller than normal, but also they have an increasing number of lateral roots and experience a drastic decrease in sugar yield.


The beet cyst nematode (Heterodera schachtii) sucks at a plant root. The pest reprogrammes the root with a plant hormone.

(c) Photo: Zoran Radakovic

This makes the pest a talking point as a cause of the dreaded “beet fatigue”, especially in traditional sugar beet growing such as Bonn. To date, however, it was not clear how the nematodes stimulate the development of a nurse cell system inside the root, which they absolutely need as a food source.

It arises from the fact that cells divide increasingly, merge with each other and eventually swell. "For a long time it was speculated that plant hormones play a role in the formation of a nurse cell system in roots," says Prof. Dr. Florian Grundler from the Molecular Phytomedicine, University of Bonn. Since the nematodes lose their ability to move after penetrating into the roots, they are particularly dependent on the development of tumorous nurse cell system.

Pest uses degradation products of its metabolism

Together with scientists from Columbia (USA), Olomouc (Czech Republic), Warsaw (Poland), Osaka (Japan) and the Freie Universitaet Berlin, the researchers at the University of Bonn have used Arabidopsis thaliana as a model plant to discover that the beet cyst nematode itself produces the plant hormone cytokinin.

“The nematode has been able to employ a breakdown product of its own metabolism as a plant hormone to control the development of plant cells,” said lead author and research group leader Dr Shahid Siddique. The pest programmed the plant roots in beets to form a special nutritive tissue, which the nematode uses for its own growth.

The research team initially did not know whether the pest uses the hormone plants produce or whether it produces and releases the hormone itself. The scientists blocked cytokinin production in the plant - the nematode nevertheless continued to grow because it was not dependent on the plant-produced hormone.

Only when the agricultural experts blocked a special receptor at the docks to override the worm-produced hormone did they starve the pest, discovering that the hormone is important for the formation of the nurse cell system. “In this case, Heterodera schachtii cannot use its ability to produce cytokinin anymore, because a vital pathway was interrupted in the root cells,” explained Dr Siddique.

New options for plant breeding

Although this discovery is a result of basic research, it opens up new avenues in plant breeding. “On the one hand the result is an important contribution to the fundamental understanding of parasitism in plants, and on the other hand it can help to reduce the problem of cyst nematode in important agricultural crops,” said Prof Grundler. Now that an important mechanism had been found by the research, we are looking for an appropriate strategy to use these results specifically in resistance breeding.

Publication: A parasitic nematode releases cytokinin that controls cell division and orchestrates feeding site formation in host plants, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1503657112

Contact for the media:

Prof. Dr. Florian Grundler
Molekulare Phytomedizin
Universität Bonn
Tel. ++49-(0)228-731675
E-mail: grundler@uni-bonn.de

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

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>