Navigation Links
Evolution coup: Study reveals how plants protect their genes
Date:9/10/2009

This release is available in French.

Montreal, September 10, 2009 Unlike animals and humans, plants can't run and hide when exposed to stressful environmental conditions. So how do plants survive? A new Universit de Montral study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found a key mechanism that enables plants to keep dangerous gene alterations in check to ensure their continued existence.

"We've discovered a new pathway that plants use to protect their genes against dangerous alterations that could also allow some useful mutations to occur," says Normand Brisson, a Universit de Montral biochemistry professor who made his discovery with graduate students Alexandre Marchal and Jean-Sbastien Parent.

"Such mutations played an important role in the evolution of plants with high nutritional value, resistance to disease and harsh climate that are so important to modern agriculture," adds Dr. Brisson. "Our results open new research avenues for the study of similar mechanisms of gene repair in humans that might be important for human evolution, our responses to stress and the prevention of devastating diseases."

How do plant genes mutate?

All living things are constantly exposed to stressors that can provoke gene mutations, yet if uncorrected such mutations can have disastrous consequences such as the development of cancers in humans or cell resistance to cancer-fighting drugs.

Cells have evolved a battery of mechanisms to correct mutations, including recently discovered strategies that can also modify the number of copies of individual genes. These corrective mechanisms have attracted a lot of scientific interest since they could play a key role in species evolution. For example, while chimps and humans have almost identical genes, differences present in the number of copies of individual genes could account for distinctions between these species.

Dr Brisson suspected that a protein family he has studied for years, called the "Whirlies" (because of their peculiar structure similar to a whirligig) might be important to protect against mutations in plant cells specifically in the chloroplast the engine of photosynthesis that allows plants to transform carbon dioxide into sugar and expel the oxygen we breathe.

Working with his students and Biochemistry Professor Franz Lang, they showed that Whirlies are key to preventing major rearrangements of genes that could result in the creation of multiple gene copies. The discovery is important, since the number of copies of a gene must be kept scrupulously in balance with other genes so they can function correctly together.

Even though gene multiplication can be thought of as detrimental, such multiplication can be an important adaptation to stressors and so keeping such mutations in check must be balanced against creating mutations that may actually help living things survive in changing conditions.

"As the effects of climate change and industrial pollution cause increasing concern for human health, we might overlook how increases in temperature and pollutants affect the plants we depend on for our survival,'' stresses Dr. Brisson. "These rapid changes in environmental conditions all cause great stress on crops, trees and wild plants and could have further unforeseen effects on their genes."


'/>"/>

Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
sylvain-jacques.desjardins@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Evolution is driven by gene regulation
2. Clones on task serve greater good, evolutionary study shows
3. Adaptation to parasites drive African fishes along different evolutionary paths
4. Uncertainty drives the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds
5. Structure of 450 million year old protein reveals evolutions steps
6. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
7. Hidden interactions between predators and prey: evolution causes cryptic dynamics in ecology
8. Migrating squid drove evolution of sonar in whales and dolphins, researchers argue
9. Old developmental pathways spawn revolutionary evolutionary changes
10. Systems Biology poised to revolutionize the understanding of cell function and disease
11. Using evolution, UW team creates a template for many new therapeutic agents
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/23/2017)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Vehicle Anti-Theft ... 8.8% over the next decade to reach approximately $14.21 billion by ... and forecasts for all the given segments on global as well ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... , March 20, 2017 At this year,s CeBIT ... -based biometrics manufacturer DERMALOG. The Chancellor came to the DERMALOG stand together ... is this year,s CeBIT partner country. At the largest German biometrics company ... use: fingerprint, face and iris recognition as well as DERMALOGĀ“s multi-biometrics system.   ... ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... Australia , March 9, 2017 ... the prestigious World Lung Imaging Workshop at the University ... , was invited to deliver the latest data to ... globally recognised event brings together leaders at the forefront ... developments in lung imaging. "The quality ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... -- Kineta, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on ... today announced the discovery and characterization of several ... interferon response factor 3 (IRF3) via RIG-I like ... in a murine colon carcinoma mouse model.  Furthermore, ... regression to initial drug treatment were resistant to ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017  Agriculture technology company Cool Planet has ... note conversion to commercialize its Cool Terra and Cool ... developing products that are simultaneously profitable as well as ... last 18 months. This latest round of funding was ... The company,s primary product, Cool Terra, ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN), today announced a ... Biobank and GSK to generate genetic sequence data from the ... will enable researchers to gain valuable insights to support advances ... of serious and life threatening diseases. ... Genetic evidence has revolutionized ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 22, 2017  UBM and the Massachusetts ... their extended partnership and the third annual Massachusetts Medtech ... the 21 st Annual MassMEDIC Conference held ... May 3-4, 2017. MassMEDIC will ... (ADVAMED) President and CEO, Scott Whitaker , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: