Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mutants From A Lowly Weed May Solve Maladies

Date:
March 5, 2003
Source:
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
Summary:
Mutants from a lowly weed. That's where many solutions to maladies - from salt stress in plants to HIV in humans - may lie in wait for scientists to discover.

COLLEGE STATION - Mutants from a lowly weed. That's where many solutions to maladies - from salt stress in plants to HIV in humans - may lie in wait for scientists to discover.

"I look for mutants. I take a sick plant and find out what's wrong," said Dr. Hisashi Koiwa, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station horticulturist.

It's the Arabidopsis plant, a common weed, that attracts Koiwa and other researchers because of its simple genetic makeup. Scientists have looked at every nook and cranny of the weed's DNA code.

The order of those code sequences known as A, C, T and G is what makes a human genetically both different from and similar to, say, the Arabidopsis, Koiwa noted. Because the Arabidopsis code sequence is known, he said, researchers are beginning to understand how particular genes work within the segments.

That's where mutants help. Researchers can simply "knock out" a particular portion of the Arabidopsis, then grow the mutated plant to see how it reacts to various conditions compared to "normal" Arabidopsis plants.

In Koiwa's case, the condition of choice is salt stress.

High salt levels are found in one third of the world's cropland and that means reduced yields, according to a report by Purdue University. Before coming to Texas A&M University in 2002, Koiwa was part of a Purdue team that discovered the gene and protein, known by scientists as AtCPLs and AtHKT1. AtCPLs tune plant gene expression under stressful environments, and AtHKT1 allows salt to enter plants.

Until the AtHKT1 discovery, no one knew how sodium gets into plants, Purdue reported.

With that information and wide collaboration, Koiwa hopes to steer continued work in his Texas lab around a mutant Arabidopsis plant which is much more sensitive to salt.

"With Arabidopsis, we know that there is a mechanism to 'pump out' salt from a cell, or move it from a critical part to a less critical part," Koiwa said. "We need to understand more about the molecular reasons the plant is sensitive to salt than its osmosis, or ability to move salt around."

Koiwa's current focus is natural ability of two different Arabidopsis varieties to move around salt which "may answer many questions as to why some crops are more salt sensitive than others," he said.

And similar work may yield answers from plants for HIV research in humans, Koiwa added.

He said mutant studies have revealed genes of four "CTD phosphatase-like regulators (or AtCPLs)" in plants, whereas humans have only one.

Targeting CTD, in humans, is a proposed defense mechanism to prevent HIV from making its parts, thus multiplying itself, he explained.

Koiwa already has located two Arabidopsis mutants for AtCPL genes, and different behavior of the two mutants implies that each have different functions.

"So we have to ask, why does a plant have four and a human only one," he said. "There must be a reason, and there must be a reason that the additional regulators behave differently."

He said future research may lead to transferring the phenomena in plants in vitro or in transgenic plants to see if any of the four plant CTDs are more sensitive or more resistant to the HIV protein known as TAT.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. "Mutants From A Lowly Weed May Solve Maladies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030305080443.htm>.
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. (2003, March 5). Mutants From A Lowly Weed May Solve Maladies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030305080443.htm
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. "Mutants From A Lowly Weed May Solve Maladies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030305080443.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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