Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Discover Mechanism Of Plant Resistance To Pathogens

Date:
February 28, 2002
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Plants have effective mechanisms aimed at protecting themselves against bacteria and fungi. Research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and published in the February 28 issue of Nature uncovers the molecular basis by which this resistance occurs. The work holds promise for designing hardier crops.

Plants have effective mechanisms aimed at protecting themselves against bacteria and fungi. Research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and published in the February 28 issue of Nature uncovers the molecular basis by which this resistance occurs. The work holds promise for designing hardier crops.

Related Articles


“We’ve identified a key molecular pathway within plant cells,” says scientist Jen Sheen of the molecular biology department at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), who authored the Nature paper with several of her colleagues. “If we activate this pathway in leaves, we’ve found that we can make them more resistant to pathogens like bacteria and fungi.”

Adds Jane Silverthorne, program director in NSF’s biological sciences directorate, “This is an exciting step forward. For the first time, we have a detailed description of an important plant signaling pathway. This information will bevaluable to furthering our understanding of basic signaling mechanisms in plants, as well as for developing crops with improved resistance to pathogens."

Sheen says plants have an effective and sophisticated immune system. Their first line of defense is a thick cell wall covered with cuticle layers that acts somewhat like human skin. If a pathogen is able to penetrate this physical barrier, for example through a wound, the pathogen will usually be detected by receptors on the surface or inside of the plant cells. One of the best characterized pathogen receptors has a feature characteristic of other plant receptors known as a Leucine-rich repeat (LRR) receptor kinase. This receptor kinase can recognize a structure on bacterial pathogens called flagellin that makes the bacteria motile.

“There’s a conserved region in the flagellin that’s present on a wide range of bacterial pathogens, so plants are very effective at detecting pathogens. Highlighting the conservation and similarity of immune systems in plants and animals, bacterial flagellin can also trigger innate immune response through a LRR receptor in mammals,” explains Sheen.

When the plant receptor binds flagellin, a complex set of cellular events follow, resulting in the expression of key immune response genes.

“The receptor in plant cells is connected to a signaling cascade that activates gene expression through what’s known as transcription factors,” Sheen says. In particular, these transcription factors may trigger the production of certain plant signals, reminiscent of cytokines in mammals, that then turn on a lot more downstream genes directly involved in the defense mechanism of the plant, Sheen explains.

The whole process is a complicated cascade of events that Sheen and her colleagues are continuing to unravel. “We are currently investigating the downstream genes involved in this cascade. Ultimately, it looks like the end result is that the plant is able to produce a variety of anti-microbial proteins, enzymes and chemicals.” Sheen adds that the ultimate goal of this type of research is to be able to engineer plants to become more pathogen-resistant.

The study was also supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, the Toyobo Biotechnology Foundation, and the Uehara Memorial Foundation.

NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of about $4.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states, through grants to about 1,800 universities and institutions nationwide. Each year, NSF receives about 30,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 10,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Researchers Discover Mechanism Of Plant Resistance To Pathogens." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020228072326.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2002, February 28). Researchers Discover Mechanism Of Plant Resistance To Pathogens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020228072326.htm
National Science Foundation. "Researchers Discover Mechanism Of Plant Resistance To Pathogens." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020228072326.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Buzz60 (Oct. 31, 2014) For its nature series Life Story, the BBC profiled the barnacle goose, whose chicks must make a daredevil 400-foot cliff dive from their nests to find food. Jen Markham has the astonishing video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) The import of salamanders around the globe is thought to be contributing to the spread of a deadly fungus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) A health group in the United Kingdom has called for mandatory calorie labels on alcoholic beverages in the European Union. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

AFP (Oct. 31, 2014) Focus on treating the Ebola epidemic in Liberia means that treatment for malaria, itself a killer, is hard to come by. MSF are now undertaking the mass distribution of antimalarials in Monrovia. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins