Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologists unlocking the secrets of plant defenses, one piece at a time

Date:
December 5, 2012
Source:
University of Texas at Arlington
Summary:
Botanists have unraveled an important step in the way the plant hormone jasmonate works. Jasmonate signaling has been a target of intense research because of its important role in maintaining the balance between plant growth and defense.

Researchers examining how the hormone jasmonate works to protect plants and promote their growth have revealed how a transcriptional repressor of the jasmonate signaling pathway makes its way into the nucleus of the plant cell.

They hope the recently published discovery will eventually help farmers experience better crop yields with less use of potentially harmful chemicals.

"This is a small piece of a bigger picture, but it is a very important piece," said Maeli Melotto, a University of Texas at Arlington assistant professor of biology.

Melotto recently co-authored a paper that advances current understanding of plant defense mechanisms with her collaborator Sheng Yang He and his team at Michigan State University's Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory (DOE-PRL). He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation investigator. A paper on the collaboration was published online Nov. 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences under the title, "Transcription factor-dependent nuclear import of transcriptional repressor in jasmonate hormone signaling."

Jasmonate signaling has been a target of intense research because of its important role in maintaining the balance between plant growth and defense. In healthy plants, jasmonates play a role in reproductive development and growth responses. But, when stressors such as herbivorous insects, pathogen attack, or drought, jasmonate signaling shifts to defense-related cellular processes.

The team from UT Arlington and Michigan State focused on the role of jasmonate signaling repressors referred to as JAZ. Specifically, they looked at how JAZ interacts with a major transcription factor called MYC2 and a protein called COI1, which is a receptor necessary for jasmonate signaling.

The researchers discovered that a physical interaction between the repressors and the MYC2 persisted inside the plant cell nucleus, preventing jasmonate-associated gene transcription.

"This tight repression of transcription factors may be important because activation of jasmonate signaling, although important for plant defense against pathogens and insects, is energy-consuming and could lead to growth inhibition -- a widely known phenomenon called growth-defense tradeoff," said He, the Michigan State plant biologist. "In other words, plants have developed a mechanism to tightly repress presumably energy-consuming, jasmonate-mediated defense responses until it becomes necessary, such as upon pathogen and insect attacks."

The National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Energy, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funded the work featured in the recent paper.

Melotto said understanding jasmonate signaling at the molecular level is also vital because some plant pathogens, such as Pseudomonas syringae, have developed ways to mimic the hormone's action in the cell. This gives them the ability to aggressively colonize plants without activating natural defense mechanisms, she said.

Melotto, who is currently receiving National Institutes of Health funding to examine plant defenses, said the next step in her jasmonate research is to determine which domain of the JAZ protein is responsible for plant innate immunity.

"This is one way to have sustainable agriculture," Melotto said of the research. "By increasing genetic resistance we could reduce the use of pesticides, decrease crop production costs and promote environmentally friendly farming practices."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Withers, J. Yao, C. Mecey, G. A. Howe, M. Melotto, S. Y. He. Transcription factor-dependent nuclear localization of a transcriptional repressor in jasmonate hormone signaling. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; 109 (49): 20148 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1210054109

Cite This Page:

University of Texas at Arlington. "Biologists unlocking the secrets of plant defenses, one piece at a time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205200257.htm>.
University of Texas at Arlington. (2012, December 5). Biologists unlocking the secrets of plant defenses, one piece at a time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205200257.htm
University of Texas at Arlington. "Biologists unlocking the secrets of plant defenses, one piece at a time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205200257.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. 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