Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cornell researchers identify natural herbicide that controls weeds around some common lawn grasses

12.11.2007
Certain varieties of common fescue lawn grass come equipped with their own natural broad-spectrum herbicide that inhibits the growth of weeds and other plants around them.

Cornell researchers have identified the herbicide as an amino acid called meta-tyrosine, or m-tyrosine, that these lawn grasses exude from their roots in large amounts. This amino acid is a close relative of para-tyrosine (p-tyrosine), one of the 20 common amino acids that form proteins.

Reporting on the discovery in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, Frank Schroeder, the paper's senior author and an assistant scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research on Cornell's campus, said, "We at first didn't believe m-tyrosine had anything to do with the observed herbicidal activity, but then we tested it and found it to be extremely toxic to plants but not toxic to fungi, mammals or bacteria."

Co-author Cecile Bertin, Ph.D. '05, research director for PharmAfrican, a Montreal-based bio-pharmaceuticals company, made the initial discovery that fescue grasses inhibit plants from growing around them.

While m-tyrosine itself is too water soluble to be applied directly as a herbicide, this research may lead to development of new varieties of fescue grasses that suppress weeds more effectively, which could reduce the need for synthetic herbicides, said Schroeder. By increasing our understanding of basic plant biology, the discovery of m-tyrosine's herbicidal properties could also help researchers discover more sustainable ways to control weeds or completely new herbicides, Schroeder added.

He and his colleagues are now conducting experiments to understand how m-tyrosine works as a plant killer. Plants depend on the production of large amounts of another common amino acid, phenylalanine, which is essential for the biosynthesis of wood, cell walls and lignin.

"Phenylalanine, m-tyrosine and p-tyrosine are structurally all very similar," said Schroeder. "Because of this similarity, we think that m-tyrosine might simulate high concentrations of phenylalanine, which would normally provide negative feedback for phenylalanine biosynthesis" and, thereby, suppress plant growth.

Schroeder and colleagues are also trying to understand why fescue grasses do not succumb to the toxin themselves. They found that when phenylalanine was added to plants dying from m-tyrosine exposure, they recovered. As a result, the researchers suspect that these fescue varieties may overproduce phenylalanine to save themselves from their own toxin.

People have not recognized how effective some fescue varieties are at suppressing weeds because m-tyrosine production appears to be highly dependent on environmental conditions, Schroeder said, which is another area that the researchers are currently investigating.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, New York State Turfgrass Association, the National Science Foundation and Triad Foundation.

Blaine Friedlander | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Back to Nature: Palm oil plantations are being turned back into protected rainforest
21.03.2019 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

nachricht The inner struggle of the evening primrose: Chloroplasts are caught up in an evolutionary arms race
14.03.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

Im Focus: Revealing the secret of the vacuum for the first time

New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum

For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

To proliferate or not to proliferate

21.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Magnetic micro-boats

21.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Motorless pumps and self-regulating valves made from ultrathin film

21.03.2019 | HANNOVER MESSE

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>