Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant pest reprogramme the roots

29.09.2015

Microscopic roundworms (nematodes) live like maggots in bacon: They penetrate into the roots of beets, potatoes or soybeans and feed on plant cells, which are full of energy. But how they do it precisely was previously unknown. Scientists at the University of Bonn together with an international team discovered that nematodes produce a plant hormone to stimulate the growth of specific feeding cells in the roots. These cells provide the parasite with all that it needs. The results are now published in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America" (PNAS).

The beet cyst nematode (Heterodera schachtii) is a pipsqueak of less than a millimetre in length, but it causes huge yield losses in sugar beet. Not only are infected beets smaller than normal, but also they have an increasing number of lateral roots and experience a drastic decrease in sugar yield.


The beet cyst nematode (Heterodera schachtii) sucks at a plant root. The pest reprogrammes the root with a plant hormone.

(c) Photo: Zoran Radakovic

This makes the pest a talking point as a cause of the dreaded “beet fatigue”, especially in traditional sugar beet growing such as Bonn. To date, however, it was not clear how the nematodes stimulate the development of a nurse cell system inside the root, which they absolutely need as a food source.

It arises from the fact that cells divide increasingly, merge with each other and eventually swell. "For a long time it was speculated that plant hormones play a role in the formation of a nurse cell system in roots," says Prof. Dr. Florian Grundler from the Molecular Phytomedicine, University of Bonn. Since the nematodes lose their ability to move after penetrating into the roots, they are particularly dependent on the development of tumorous nurse cell system.

Pest uses degradation products of its metabolism

Together with scientists from Columbia (USA), Olomouc (Czech Republic), Warsaw (Poland), Osaka (Japan) and the Freie Universitaet Berlin, the researchers at the University of Bonn have used Arabidopsis thaliana as a model plant to discover that the beet cyst nematode itself produces the plant hormone cytokinin.

“The nematode has been able to employ a breakdown product of its own metabolism as a plant hormone to control the development of plant cells,” said lead author and research group leader Dr Shahid Siddique. The pest programmed the plant roots in beets to form a special nutritive tissue, which the nematode uses for its own growth.

The research team initially did not know whether the pest uses the hormone plants produce or whether it produces and releases the hormone itself. The scientists blocked cytokinin production in the plant - the nematode nevertheless continued to grow because it was not dependent on the plant-produced hormone.

Only when the agricultural experts blocked a special receptor at the docks to override the worm-produced hormone did they starve the pest, discovering that the hormone is important for the formation of the nurse cell system. “In this case, Heterodera schachtii cannot use its ability to produce cytokinin anymore, because a vital pathway was interrupted in the root cells,” explained Dr Siddique.

New options for plant breeding

Although this discovery is a result of basic research, it opens up new avenues in plant breeding. “On the one hand the result is an important contribution to the fundamental understanding of parasitism in plants, and on the other hand it can help to reduce the problem of cyst nematode in important agricultural crops,” said Prof Grundler. Now that an important mechanism had been found by the research, we are looking for an appropriate strategy to use these results specifically in resistance breeding.

Publication: A parasitic nematode releases cytokinin that controls cell division and orchestrates feeding site formation in host plants, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1503657112

Contact for the media:

Prof. Dr. Florian Grundler
Molekulare Phytomedizin
Universität Bonn
Tel. ++49-(0)228-731675
E-mail: grundler@uni-bonn.de

Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes
17.07.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>