However, it has not been known what happens between the pathogen attacks and the defense activation, until now. A new MU study revealed a very complex process that explains how plants counter attack pathogens. This discovery could potentially lead to crops with enhanced disease resistance.
“There is a chemical warfare between plants and pathogens,” said Shuqun Zhang, associate professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the College of Medicine. “Normally, plants put effort into growth and development. However, when plants sense pathogens, they have to use some of their energy and resources to make secondary metabolites to fight disease. Until now, very little has been known about how this process is regulated.”
According to the study, plants first sense the attack of a pathogen, and then activate defense responses by triggering a complex signaling cascade in plants. One of the defense responses is the induction and accumulation of anti-microbial defense chemicals, known as phytoalexins.
In his study, Zhang found the specific signaling path, known as a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade, in the plants that ends when the defense chemical camalexin is created. Camalexin is essential for resistance to some plant diseases. Zhang used Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant and the first to have its entire genome sequenced, and Botrytis cinera, a fungal pathogen that causes grey mold disease in a number of plants including grapes and strawberries.
“By understanding at the molecular and cellular levels how plants protect themselves under adverse environmental conditions, such as pathogen attacks, we could eventually improve the disease resistance of crops,” Zhang said.
Jennifer Faddis | EurekAlert!
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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