Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery offers hope of saving sub-Saharan crops from devastating parasites

Date:
September 12, 2010
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
Each year, thousands of acres of crops are planted throughout Africa, Asia and Australia only to be laid to waste by a parasitic plant called Striga, also known as witchweed. It is one of the largest challenges to food security in Africa, and a team of scientists has discovered chemicals and genes that may break Striga's stranglehold.

Each year, thousands of acres of crops are planted throughout Africa, Asia and Australia only to be laid to waste by a parasitic plant called Striga, also known as witchweed. It is one of the largest challenges to food security in Africa, and a team of scientists led by researchers from the University of Toronto have discovered chemicals and genes that may break Striga's stranglehold.

When crops grow, their roots release a plant hormone called strigolactone. If the soil contains Striga seed, it will use the released strigolactone as a cue to germinate and infect the crop plants. Once connected to the crop, the Striga plant kills the crop by sucking out its nutrients.

"In sub-Saharan Africa alone, Striga has infected up to two-thirds of the arable land," says U of T cell and systems biologist Peter McCourt, principle investigator of a study published in Nature Chemical Biology. "With chemicals and genes in hand that influence strigolactone production in plants, we should be able to manipulate the level of this compound by chemical application or plant breeding which would break the Striga-crop interaction.

The scientists used a model genetic plant system called Arabidopsis to screen 10,000 compounds and identify a set of five chemicals, designated cotylimides, which increase the accumulation of strigolactone in plants. They also found related chemicals that decrease strigolactone levels. From there, they screened for mutants of Arabidopsis that were resistant to cotylimides and identified mutants that made less strigolactone. These mutants identified genes that regulate strigolactone levels in plants.

The research team includes members from the University of Toronto's Department of Cell and Systems Biology and Centre for Analysis of Genome Evolution and Function, as well as the RIKEN Plant Science Center in Yokahama, Japan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yuichiro Tsuchiya, Danielle Vidaurre, Shigeo Toh, Atsushi Hanada, Eiji Nambara, Yuji Kamiya, Shinjiro Yamaguchi, Peter McCourt. A small-molecule screen identifies new functions for the plant hormone strigolactone. Nature Chemical Biology, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.435

Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Discovery offers hope of saving sub-Saharan crops from devastating parasites." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100910130605.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2010, September 12). Discovery offers hope of saving sub-Saharan crops from devastating parasites. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100910130605.htm
University of Toronto. "Discovery offers hope of saving sub-Saharan crops from devastating parasites." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100910130605.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 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:
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