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 Sciencesunder 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."
University of Texas at Arlington: http://www.uta.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
A demand for vulture parts in witchcraft, as well as poisoning and urbanization, has caused a nearly 90 percent decline in the scavengers' populations.
Scientists in Britain say they have developed a way of genetically modifying and controlling an invasive species of moth that causes serious pest damage to cabbages, kale, canola and other similar crops world-wide.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - They look alike, act alike and long have been considered to be the same species. But, in the case of the golden jackals found across parts of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe, it turns out that appearances can be deceiving.
'Whether we like it or not, over the next 20 years roughly the world will double its hydropower capacity'
These nocturnal storms are different from their daytime brethren and we still don't understand how and why they form.
Monsanto no longer controls one of the biggest innovations in the history of agriculture.
The Department of Justice hasn't said whether they've received an extradition request
Scientists say lake herring, a key fish in Lake Superior's food web, is suffering because of mild winters and Europe's appetite for roe. Some say the species may be at risk of "collapse."
The White House organized this large private-sector commitment
Water scarcity is leading farmers away from planting staples and towards planting higher-value, lower-water specialty crops. Think wine grapes and pomegranates instead of citrus and avocados.