Navigation Links
A bit touchy: Plants' insect defenses activated by touch
Date:4/9/2012

HOUSTON -- (April 9, 2012) -- A new study by Rice University scientists reveals that plants can use the sense of touch to fight off fungal infections and insects. The study, which will be published in the April 24 issue of Current Biology, finds that plant defenses are enhanced when plants are touched.

"From previous studies, we knew that plants change their growth in response to touch but we didn't know how these growth changes were activated," said Wassim Chehab, a faculty fellow in Rice's Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and lead author of the new study. "We used a widely studied plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, to test the idea that the touch-induced growth was regulated by a plant hormone called jasmonate."

Jasmonate plays a critical role in initiating plant defenses against plant-eating insects. When jasmonate levels go up, the plant increases production of metabolites that give herbivores an upset stomach. Jasmonate defenses, which also protect against some fungal infections, are employed by virtually all plants, including tomatoes, rice and corn. The new study provides the first evidence that these defenses are triggered when plants are touched. In the study, students touched the plants in a laboratory, but the researchers say the touch-induced response could also be activated by animals, including insects, and wind.

"Plants can't move, so it makes sense for them to have a highly developed sense of touch to react quickly to changes in their environment," said study co-author Janet Braam, professor and chair of Rice's Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.

The famed Venus flytrap uses its sense of touch to rapidly close and trap insects. But in prior research at Rice, Braam and her colleagues showed that Arabidopsis was also extremely responsive to touch. In 2000, her lab used tools of biotechnology to produce a plant that glowed with light wherever it was touched. They also showed that Arabidopsis plants that were touched regularly grew much shorter and slower -- much like trees exposed to a windy coastline will grow short and bent.

"In this new work, we show that jasmonate mediates this growth response in Arabidopsis," Braam said. "Our experiments show that plants that are repeatedly touched maintain high levels of jasmonate and therefore have enhanced insect and fungal tolerance. In addition, we found that eliminating key genes required for jasmonate production results in the inability of plants to grow shorter and slower when touched."

Braam and Chehab also found that plants that were touched often, and consequently had high levels of jasmonate, were more resistant to fungal and insect attacks.

Chehab said plants do not base their production of jasmonate on a single source of information.

"There are multiple signals that can influence the jasmonate response," Chehab said. "Touch is one, but we also recently found that this response can be mediated by the plant's internal clock, or circadian rhythm. It's a complicated picture, but by piecing it together, we get a clearer understanding of plant pest resistance."


'/>"/>
Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Which plants will survive droughts, climate change?
2. Scientists study the catalytic reactions used by plants to split oxygen from water
3. Stomata development in plants unraveled -- a valuable discovery for environmental research
4. Plants mimic scent of pollinating beetles
5. Human noise has ripple effects on plants
6. Not just for the birds: Man-made noise has ripple effects on plants, too
7. New method for stronger dental implants
8. Studying the importance of biological rhythms for the ecological performance of plants
9. Iowa State, Ames Lab chemists aid study of mutated plants that may be better for biofuels
10. Revealed in accurate detail, the underground world of plants
11. Using plants to silence insect genes in a high-throughput manner
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
A bit touchy: Plants' insect defenses activated by touch
(Date:3/14/2016)... , Allemagne, March 14, 2016 ... ) - --> - Renvoi : image ... --> --> ... biométriques, fournit de nouveaux lecteurs d,empreintes digitales pour ... de DERMALOG sera utilisé pour produire des cartes ...
(Date:3/10/2016)... 10, 2016   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS ... (CBP) is testing its biometric identity solution at the ... to help identify certain non-U.S. citizens leaving the country. ... designed to help determine the efficiency and accuracy of using ... and will run until May 2016. --> ...
(Date:3/8/2016)... March 8, 2016   Valencell , the ... announced it has secured $11M in Series D ... a new venture fund being launched by UAE-based ... from existing investors TDF Ventures and WSJ Joshua ... continue its triple-digit growth and accelerate its pioneering ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... ... Doctors in Italy, Japan, the UK and the US have reached some surprising ... its link to malignant mesothelioma. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted the details of their ... , The studies analyzed for the new report included more than 3,447 cancer patients. ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... NEW YORK , May 26, 2016 ... announced today that it will be a featured presenter at ... 2016 in New York City at ... Denis Corin , Q BioMed Inc. CEO, is scheduled ... presentation will cover the company,s business strategy, recent developments and ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Lajollacooks4u has become a rising hotspot ... rated one of its top attractions. Fortune 500 companies, such as Illumina, Hewlett-Packard, ... unique and intimate team-building experience. , Each event kicks off with an olive oil ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... , ... May 25, 2016 , ... Scientists at the ... options being tried for mesothelioma may be hampering the research that could lead to ... Click here to read it now. , The team evaluated 98 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: