Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Putting the brakes on harmful fungal spores

15.01.2015

What role do light-sensitive proteins play in a fungus that attacks rice plants? Researchers from Würzburg and Seville have answered this question: the proteins retard the germination of the fungal spores.

Fusarium fujikuroi: This is the name of a fungus that infects rice plants. It spreads through their tissues, makes their stems long and weak, and, in the worst-case scenario, kills them. If the plants survive this attack from the parasite, they do not yield a full harvest: it may be up to 20 percent smaller, as the International Rice Research Institute (in the Philippines) has found.


The CarO rhodopsin of the fungus Fusarium fujikuroi is found mainly in the spores (green dye). Spores without rhodopsin (bottom left) germinate far more quickly than those with rhodopsin (right).

Images: Ulrich Terpitz

The fungus attacks the rice via the grains or roots. If its spores reach there, they germinate and push fine tubes into the plant interior. Spore germination depends greatly on the protein CarO (carotenoid opsin), which belongs to the group of rhodopsins. This is reported by researchers from the University of Würzburg’s Biocenter and from the University of Seville in “Scientific Reports”, a journal by the Nature Group.

Describing the role of a fungal rhodopsin for the first time

Rhodopsins are found in all fungi that grow on plants. “Until now, however, nobody knew what biological functions they fulfil,” says Würzburg scientist Ulrich Terpitz. His junior research group at the Department of Biotechnology and Biophysics has now shed light on this matter for the first time. It has discovered with the fungus Fusarium fujikuroi that the CarO rhodopsin accumulates particularly strongly in the spores. It is activated by light and then acts as an ion pump that transports protons out from the fungal cell.

When the researchers examined fungi mutants lacking the rhodopsin, they found that the spores of such fungi germinate far more quickly than normal in the presence of light. “Light activates the rhodopsin, and this in turn retards the germination,” explains Terpitz.
Mechanism for regulating spore germination

This makes sense for the fungus: “The spores are created in the light, on the leaves of the rice plants. But they should not germinate until they are in dark soil because there they are close to the infection sites, by the roots, or fallen rice grains.” Presumably the CarO rhodopsin therefore helps prevent germination of the spores until they have reached the soil, says the Würzburg biologist.

Further studies on corn smut planned

As the next step, the researchers want to try to infect rice plants in the laboratory with rhodopsin-free fungal spores – to see whether the rhodopsin can affect the infectivity of the fungi. They are also planning to examine the rhodopsins of another fungus, corn smut (Ustilago maydis). In this pathogen there are two other rhodopsins alongside CarO. “We are also keen to take a very close look at their role as proton pumps and their positioning in the fungus,” says Terpitz.

This work is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Light-sensitive proteins in fungi

Rhodopsins are only one group of light-sensitive proteins known in fungi. There is particular uncertainty regarding their role. The other light receptors, on the other hand, have been well researched. They are known to control many vital processes, such as the direction of growth of the hyphae, circadian rhythms, or spore formation.

García-Martínez, J., Brunk, M., Avalos, J. & Terpitz, U.: “The CarO rhodopsin of the fungus Fusarium fujikuroi is a light-driven proton pump that retards spore germination.” Scientific Reports 5, 7798; January 15, 2015, DOI:10.1038/srep07798

Contact

Dr. Ulrich Terpitz, Department of Biotechnology and Biophysics, University of Würzburg, T +49 (0)931 31-84226, ulrich.terpitz@uni-wuerzburg.de

Robert Emmerich | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

Further reports about: Fusarium corn smut fungal fungal spores fungi fungus fungus Fusarium proteins rice plants spores

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>