Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists find common roots for thousands of plant compounds

20.01.2005


Just one cellular pathway produces the raw ingredients plants use to make thousands of compounds, from molecules with anticancer properties to the active ingredient in catnip, according to a team of researchers at Purdue University and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology.



This finding challenges long-held assumptions about how plants produce these commercially important products. The research also could have important implications for researchers trying to harness plant pathways to produce essential oils, often used as flavor additives in food and medicine or as fragrance in body-care products, said Natalia Dudareva, professor of horticulture and lead researcher of the study. "Our research has applications in the future metabolic engineering of essential oil production," Dudareva said. "The yield of these compounds depends on the amount of materials available in the cell, and knowing where these compounds come from and which pathway produces them is the place to start."

Dudareva and her colleagues report in the current issue (Tuesday, Jan. 18) of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that the molecular precursors to a group of compounds called terpenoids - the largest and most diverse family of natural products - come from a single plant pathway, located inside the same part of a cell where photosynthesis occurs.


Terpenoids are made from compounds called precursor molecules, which are a kind of molecular raw material. Just as a potter can transform five identical spheres of clay into five unique pieces of art, identical precursor molecules can transform into unique compounds by following different molecular pathways.

Scientists previously discovered that two independent pathways, located in different compartments within a plant cell, use these precursor molecules to produce terpenoids. Most scientists assumed that both pathways were capable of producing these precursor molecules as well. The discovery that only one pathway produces these precursors is a significant breakthrough, Dudareva said. "We never expected to find this," she said. "This is the first time anyone has realized that only one of the two available pathways operates to make the precursor."

She also found that while some of the precursor molecules remain in the compartment where they are made, some travel through the cell to another compartment, where they enter a second pathway in terpenoid production.

The process can be likened to a manufacturing plant with an assembly line that makes a car part, such as a steering wheel. Some of those steering wheels remain on-site to be added to cars manufactured at that plant. Additional steering wheels are transported to another plant that, instead of making its own steering wheels, uses those from the first plant to produce its product.

Just as delivering steering wheels from one manufacturing facility to another requires some kind of transportation, molecules also rely on vehicles to travel around the interior of a cell. Exactly how the precursor molecules in this system travel from one compartment to another, however, remains a mystery. "This work hints at the existence of a transporter to carry precursor molecules across the cell," said David Rhodes, Purdue professor of horticulture and a collaborator on the paper. "We already know that plants have a huge number of compartments that exchange materials. Now we need to figure out how these compartments facilitate this one-way flow of precursor molecule."

Dudareva used snapdragon flowers in this research, a model plant system she also uses in her studies of floral scent regulation. While limited to this one species, she suggests similar results might be found in other plants. "Others have previously shown indirectly that the same pathway that’s not functioning in snapdragons is also blocked in basil plants and in mint," she said. "This opens the question of how widespread is this phenomenon?"

The finding also raises intriguing questions in plant evolution. "We still don’t understand why plants have duplicate pathways in different parts of the cell," Rhodes said. "And if one of these pathways is not operating, why haven’t plants lost it over the course of evolution?"

Dudareva’s collaborators also include Irina Orlova at Purdue University, as well as Susanna Andersson, Nathalie Gatto, Michael Reichelt, Wilhelm Boland and Jonathan Gershenzon at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. Funding was provided by The National Science Foundation, Fred Gloeckner Foundation, German Academic Exchange Service and Max Planck Society.

Jennifer Cutraro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.purdue.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>