Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plants give up answers in the war on bacteria

11.09.2006
Back-to-back scientific papers are offering a revolutionary look at the battlefield on which plant diseases are fought – and often lost – to bacteria.

The laboratory of Sheng Yang He at Michigan State University has changed the textbook description of a plant’s surface terrain and is unveiling new knowledge of how bacterial pathogens invade plants and take hold. The most recent paper, published in the Sept. 8 edition of Cell, redefines the role of the plant’s pores in defense against invading bacteria and how some bacteria can overpower plants.

Last month, in Science Magazine, the lab outlined a better understanding of how bacteria set up camp and destroy the plant’s ability to fight infection.

The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy and supported by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.

“We’ve known for 100 years that bacterial pathogens cause illness in crops, yet we still don’t understand how they produce disease,” said He, a professor of plant biology, plant pathology, and microbiology and molecular genetics. “It’s very frustrating. How does this little thing do such great damage to plants?”
... more about:
»Melotto »plant’s »stomata

But this summer, Maeli Melotto, a research associate, and Bill Underwood, a graduate student, in He’s laboratory, shed light on the behavior of one the plant’s first lines of defense against disease. Pores called stomata are like tiny mouths that open and close during photosynthesis, exchanging gases. In sunshine, the stomata open. In darkness, they close to conserve water.

It has been assumed that these tiny ports were busy with their photosynthesis business and were merely unwitting doorways to invading bacteria on a plant’s surface. Melotto and Underwood, however, have discovered that stomata are an intricate part of the plant’s immune system that can sense danger and respond by shutting down.

The lab performed experiments on Arabadopsis, a common laboratory plant, but the mechanisms could be universal across all land plants.

“When we started looking more closely, and put bacteria on a plant surface, stomata close. It’s like they say ‘oh, we have to close the doors!’” Melotto said. “Even if it is in bright daylight, when the stomata are supposed to be open, they close.”

Some bacteria have gotten smarter. Melotto and Underwood found that plants recognized human-infecting bacteria, such as E. coli, and kept the stomata closed to them. Plant-infecting bacteria, like those most destructive to crops, have figured out a way to reopen the shut-down ports.

It appears those plant-based bacteria produce a phytotoxin, a chemical called coronatine, to force the pores back open. For bacteria, entry is crucial to causing disease and probably survival. They could die if left lingering on the surface. Animal-based bacteria do not produce coronatine.

“Now that we know a key step in bacteria’s attack, we have something we can learn to interfere with,” Melotto said. “From this we can learn about disease resistance.”

It’s a weighty issue. Bacterial diseases can be catastrophic to crops. One disease, called fire blight, did $40 million in destruction to Michigan apple trees in 2000 alone and all but eliminated commercial pear crops in Michigan for that year.

He also sees useful human health implications. Understanding that animal pathogens, like dangerous E. coli, cannot easily gain access inside the plant helps scientists know how to best combat bacteria that cause foodborne illness. It is important to know, he explained, whether foodborne illnesses rest on the surface of an edible plant, or nestle inside, impervious to washing.

“We are thinking about the mysteries of plant pathologies, but these have broad implications,” He said. “We haven’t understood very well how plants and bacteria interact, but we’re finally seeing the light.”

Sheng Yang He | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu

Further reports about: Melotto plant’s stomata

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related
17.08.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA Protects its super heroes from space weather

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Spray-on electric rainbows: Making safer electrochromic inks

17.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

17.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>