Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mutants from a lowly weed may solve maladies

05.03.2003


Dr. Hisashi Koiwa, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station horticulturist, examines an Arabidopsis plant in his lab at Texas A&M University. Mutants of the plant, a common weed, may help scientists find answers to a wide variety of maladies s from salt stress in plants to HIV in humans. (TAES photo by Kathleen Phillips)


Mutants from a lowly weed. That’s where many solutions to maladies – from salt stress in plants to HIV in humans – may lie in wait for scientists to discover.

"I look for mutants. I take a sick plant and find out what’s wrong," said Dr. Hisashi Koiwa, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station horticulturist.

It’s the Arabidopsis plant, a common weed, that attracts Koiwa and other researchers because of its simple genetic makeup. Scientists have looked at every nook and cranny of the weed’s DNA code.



The order of those code sequences known as A, C, T and G is what makes a human genetically both different from and similar to, say, the Arabidopsis, Koiwa noted. Because the Arabidopsis code sequence is known, he said, researchers are beginning to understand how particular genes work within the segments.

That’s where mutants help. Researchers can simply "knock out" a particular portion of the Arabidopsis, then grow the mutated plant to see how it reacts to various conditions compared to "normal" Arabidopsis plants.

In Koiwa’s case, the condition of choice is salt stress.

High salt levels are found in one third of the world’s cropland and that means reduced yields, according to a report by Purdue University. Before coming to Texas A&M University in 2002, Koiwa was part of a Purdue team that discovered the gene and protein, known by scientists as AtCPLs and AtHKT1. AtCPLs tune plant gene expression under stressful environments, and AtHKT1 allows salt to enter plants.

Until the AtHKT1 discovery, no one knew how sodium gets into plants, Purdue reported.

With that information and wide collaboration, Koiwa hopes to steer continued work in his Texas lab around a mutant Arabidopsis plant which is much more sensitive to salt.

"With Arabidopsis, we know that there is a mechanism to ’pump out’ salt from a cell, or move it from a critical part to a less critical part," Koiwa said. "We need to understand more about the molecular reasons the plant is sensitive to salt than its osmosis, or ability to move salt around."

Koiwa’s current focus is natural ability of two different Arabidopsis varieties to move around salt which "may answer many questions as to why some crops are more salt sensitive than others," he said.

And similar work may yield answers from plants for HIV research in humans, Koiwa added.

He said mutant studies have revealed genes of four "CTD phosphatase-like regulators (or AtCPLs)" in plants, whereas humans have only one.

Targeting CTD, in humans, is a proposed defense mechanism to prevent HIV from making its parts, thus multiplying itself, he explained.

Koiwa already has located two Arabidopsis mutants for AtCPL genes, and different behavior of the two mutants implies that each have different functions.

"So we have to ask, why does a plant have four and a human only one," he said. "There must be a reason, and there must be a reason that the additional regulators behave differently."

He said future research may lead to transferring the phenomena in plants in vitro or in transgenic plants to see if any of the four plant CTDs are more sensitive or more resistant to the HIV protein known as TAT.

Writer: Kathleen Phillips, (979) 845-2872,ka-phillips@tamu.edu
Contact: Hisashi Koiwa, (979) 845-5341,koiwa@neo.tamu.edu

Kathleen Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://agnews.tamu.edu/dailynews/stories/HORT/Mar0303a.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>