How Plants sound the alarms about Danger

One role of plant hormones is to perceive trouble whether an insect attack, drought or intense heat or cold and then signal to the rest of the plant to respond.

The findings, which were published in Nature Plants on March 13, 2020, reveal a complex communication network.Investigators from the Salk Institute reported a new details about how plants respond to a hormone called jasmonic acid, or jasmonate.

The plant used in the study was Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant in the mustard family. Because its genome has been well characterized, this plant is a popular model system. Scientists can take what they learn in A. thaliana and apply it to other plants, including those grown for food. Jasmonic acid is found not only in A. thaliana but throughout the plant kingdom.

The researchers started with plant seeds grown in petri dishes. They kept the seeds in the dark for three days to mimic the first few days of a seed’s life, when it is still underground.After three days, the plants were exposed to jasmonic acid. The researchers then extracted the DNA and proteins from the plant cells and employed specific antibodies against their proteins of interest to capture the exact genomic location of these regulators. By using various computational approaches, the team was then able to identify genes that are important for the plant’s response to jasmonic acid and, moreover, for the cellular cross-communication with other plant hormone pathways.

By deciphering all of these gene networks and subnetworks, it helps us to understand the architecture of the whole system.These kinds of details can be useful for breeding crops that are able to better withstand attacks from pests.

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