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 Tag it EASI – a new method for accurate protein analysis
19.06.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries
19.06.2018 | 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: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New material for splitting water

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cementless fly ash binder makes concrete 'green'

19.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Overdosing on Calcium

19.06.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>