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 Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>