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 'Y' a protein unicorn might matter in glaucoma
23.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry
23.10.2017 | Rice University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | 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

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>