New insight into plants' self-defense

phys.org | 2/21/2018 | Staff
eymira (Posted by) Level 3
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Chloroplasts are the ultimate green machines—the parts of plant cells that turn sunlight into food in a fairly famous process known as photosynthesis.

But they have another role of critical value to plant life. They are part of the signal corps that alerts a plant's immune system to the threat of danger—whether by enemy attack or environmental stressor.

University - Delaware - Researchers - Collaborators - University

Now University of Delaware researchers and collaborators at the University of California-Davis have uncovered new details of how chloroplasts move about in times of trouble. It's the fundamental kind of research information that helps scientists understand plant biology and could help farmers prevent crop loss.

Their findings were published by eLife.

Techniques - Delaware - Biotechnology - Institute - Team

Using bioimaging techniques at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, a team led by Jeffrey Caplan, director of the Bioimaging Center, has shown that chloroplasts morph into dramatically different shapes when danger approaches, sending out hollow shoot-like parts called "stromules" as part of the plant's immune response. These stromules then connect to the cell's nucleus and appear to guide the chloroplasts to their assigned posts.

Researchers don't know yet if the stromules act as escorts or provide the impetus for this transit—or both. But the images show direct correlation.

Methods - Crop - Protection - Pathogens - Caplan

"This could point to new methods for crop protection against various pathogens," Caplan said. "This is a basic response, not specific to any one pathogen."

For this study, researchers used cells from a relative of the tobacco plant—nicotiana benthamiana—which has many properties of value...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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