Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How a molecular 'alarm' system in plants protects them from predators

08.05.2020

Scientists uncover how oral secretions of the cotton leaf worm trigger defense responses in a plant

In nature, every species must be equipped with a strategy to be able to survive in response to danger. Plants, too, have innate systems that are triggered in response to a particular threat, such as insects feeding on them. For example, some plants sense "herbivore-derived danger signals" (HDS), which are specific chemicals in oral secretions of insects.


A cellular pathway in plants to sense danger signals and elicit a response.

Credit: Tokyo University of Science

This activates a cascade of events in the plant's defense machinery, which leads to the plant developing "resistance" to (or "immunity" against) the predator. But despite decades of research, exactly how plants recognize these signals has remained a bit of a mystery.

In a new study published in Communications Biology, a research team from Tokyo University of Science, Ehime University, Okayama University, The University of Tokyo, and Iwate Biotechnology Research Center, led by Prof Gen-ichiro Arimura, attempts to shed light on exactly how plant HDS systems work.

They chose to study membrane proteins called "receptor-like kinases" (RLKs), which are found in soybean leaves. They based their study on previous evidence from plants like Arabidopsis, tobacco, and cowpea, in which RLKs play a major role in HDS systems. Prof Arimura says, "Scientists have been trying to understand the molecular mechanism of plant resistance for years, but the 'sensors' involved in plant recognition of insect pests are still not known. Thus, we wanted to get a detailed understanding of these mechanisms."

To begin with, the scientists focused on soybean RLK genes that were structurally and functionally similar to a RLK gene, which is known to trigger a danger response by recognizing "oligosaccharides" (small carbohydrate molecules) during pathogen attack. They speculated that owing to these similarities, soybean genes might also show a mechanism similar to that seen in pathogen resistance.

They found 15 such genes through genetic analysis. Next, the scientists generated 15 types of Arabidopsis plants, each plant uniquely expressing only one of the 15 individual soy genes. When they tested these plants using oral secretions from the pest, they uncovered genes for two novel RLKs that showed a defense response specific to the oral secretions, called GmHAK1 and GmHAK2.

These findings were unprecedented: the role of these RLKs in soybean HDS systems had never been revealed before. Moreover, when the scientists dug deeper into the mechanism of these regulatory factors in Arabidopsis, they found two proteins, a HAK homolog and PBL27 (which play a role in intracellular signaling), to be involved in this pathway. Accordingly, this confirmed what the scientists had initially expected--soybean and Arabidopsis possess similar mechanisms for "danger response."

In agriculture, it is crucial to develop strategies for pest control in crop plants to avoid incurring losses. This study takes a massive step in this direction by uncovering an important cellular mechanism that triggers defense response in plants. Manipulating this innate cellular system may even help scientists to fuel the development of new agricultural products, potentially making life easier for farmers. Prof Arimura concludes, "It has been challenging to find new pest control methods that are effective and do not harm the ecosystem in any way. Our study offers a potential solution to this problem by uncovering the details of how certain plants develop resistance."

###

Reference

Title of original paper: Soy and Arabidopsis receptor-like kinases respond to polysaccharide signals from Spodoptera species and mediate herbivore resistance

Journal: Communications Biology

DOI: 10.1038/s42003-020-0959-4

About The Tokyo University of Science

Tokyo University of Science (TUS) is a well-known and respected university, and the largest science-specialized private research university in Japan, with four campuses in central Tokyo and its suburbs and in Hokkaido. Established in 1881, the university has continually contributed to Japan's development in science through inculcating the love for science in researchers, technicians, and educators.

With a mission of "Creating science and technology for the harmonious development of nature, human beings, and society", TUS has undertaken a wide range of research from basic to applied science. TUS has embraced a multidisciplinary approach to research and undertaken intensive study in some of today's most vital fields. TUS is a meritocracy where the best in science is recognized and nurtured. It is the only private university in Japan that has produced a Nobel Prize winner and the only private university in Asia to produce Nobel Prize winners within the natural sciences field. Website: https://www.tus.ac.jp/en/mediarelations/

About Professor Gen-ichiro Arimura from Tokyo University of Science (TUS)

Dr Gen-ichiro Arimura is a Professor in the Faculty of Industrial Science and Technology, Department of Biological Science and Technology at TUS, Japan. He completed his graduation at the Hiroshima University Graduate School, after which he worked in the field of plant biology for several years before moving to TUS in 2013. A senior and well-respected researcher, he has more than 110 publications to his credit. His key research interests include plant biotechnology, ecology, and biochemistry.

Funding information

This work was financially supported by the MEXT Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (18H04786 and 20H04786) and JSPS KAKENHI (20K15878, 20K06058, and 20H02951).

Tsutomu Shimizu | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-0959-4

Further reports about: Arabidopsis Biology HDS Kinases alarm system pest control proteins receptor-like kinases soybean

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Drug discovery: First rational strategy to find molecular glue degraders
03.08.2020 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

nachricht Chlamydia: Greedy for Glutamine
03.08.2020 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

Im Focus: NYUAD astrophysicist investigates the possibility of life below the surface of Mars

  • A rover expected to explore below the surface of Mars in 2022 has the potential to provide more insights
  • The findings published in Scientific Reports, Springer Nature suggests the presence of traces of water on Mars, raising the question of the possibility of a life-supporting environment

Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...

Im Focus: Manipulating non-magnetic atoms in a chromium halide enables tuning of magnetic properties

New approach creates synthetic layered magnets with unprecedented level of control over their magnetic properties

The magnetic properties of a chromium halide can be tuned by manipulating the non-magnetic atoms in the material, a team, led by Boston College researchers,...

Im Focus: A new method to significantly increase the range and stability of optical tweezers

Scientists of Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with a team of the V.E. Zuev Institute of Atmospheric Optics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have discovered a method to increase the operation range of optical traps also known

Optical tweezers are a device which uses a laser beam to move micron-sized objects such as living cells, proteins, and molecules. In 2018, the American...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Novel approach improves graphene-based supercapacitors

03.08.2020 | Information Technology

Germany-wide rainfall measurements by utilizing the mobile network

03.08.2020 | Information Technology

Drug discovery: First rational strategy to find molecular glue degraders

03.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>