Navigation Links
How parasites modify plants to attract insects
Date:11/8/2011

Pathogens can alter their hosts, for example malaria parasites can make humans more attractive to mosquitoes, but how they do it has remained a mystery. Scientists from the John Innes Centre on Norwich Research Park have identified for the first time a specific molecule from a parasite that manipulates plant development to the advantage of the insect host.

"Our findings show how this pathogen molecule can reach beyond its host to alter a third organism," said Dr Saskia Hogenhout from JIC.

Leaf hoppers are tiny sap-sucking, highly mobile and opportunistic agricultural pests. Certain species can acquire and transmit plant pathogens including viruses and phytoplasmas, which are small bacteria. Dr Hogenhout and her team focused on a phytoplasma strain called Aster Yellows Witches' Broom, which causes deformity in a diverse range of plants.

"It is timely to better understand phytoplasmas as they are sensitive to cold and could spread to new areas as temperatures rise through climate change," said Dr Hogenhout.

Infected plants grow clusters of multiple stems which can look like a witches' broom or in trees like a bird's nest. The strain was originally isolated from infected lettuce fields in North America.

The phytoplasma depends on both the leafhopper and the plant host for survival, replication and dispersal. The new findings show how it manipulates the interaction of the plant host and insect vector to its advantage.

The scientists sequenced and examined the genome of the witches broom phytoplasma and identified 56 candidate molecules, called effector proteins, which could be key to this complex biological interaction.

They found that a protein effector SAP11 reduces the production of a defence hormone in the plant that is used against the leafhopper. As a consequence, leafhoppers reared on plants infected with witches broom laid more eggs and produced more offspring. The leafhoppers may also be attracted to lay eggs in the bunched branches and stems.

The higher fecundity rate is probably matched by a similar increased rate in transmission of the witches broom phytoplasma by leafhoppers to other plants.

"Phytoplasmas that can enhance egg-laying and offspring numbers in leafhoppers are likely to have a competitive advantage," said Dr Hogenhout.

Given their opportunistic nature, the leafhoppers are likely to migrate to uninfected plants and spread the pathogen.

"This is a vivid example of the extended phenotype, a concept put forward by Richard Dawkins, where an organism's phenotype is based not only on the biological processes within it but also on its impact on its environment," said Dr Hogenhout.

The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and The Gatsby Charitable Foundation. It will be published in PNAS.


'/>"/>

Contact: Zoe Dunford
zoe.dunford@nbi.ac.uk
44-160-325-1490
Norwich BioScience Institutes
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Scripps Florida scientists awarded $1.5M to fight major water and food parasites
2. Locking parasites in host cell could be new way to fight malaria
3. Immune genes adapt to parasites
4. Study finds role for parasites in evolution of sex
5. Discovery to aid in future treatments of third-world parasites
6. Parasites ready to jump
7. Penn researchers identify immune cells that fight parasites may promote allergies and asthma
8. Immune evasion common in many viruses, bacteria and parasites is uncommon in M. tuberculosis
9. Discovery offers hope of saving sub-Saharan crops from devastating parasites
10. MIT researchers study the danger of toxoplasma parasites
11. Comparison of genomes of plant parasites provides solid clues for response
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
How parasites modify plants to attract insects
(Date:3/31/2016)...   LegacyXChange, Inc. ... LegacyXChange is excited to release its first ... be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed authentic ... also provide potential shareholders a sense of the value ... industry that is notorious for fraud. The video is ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... , March 23, 2016 ... erhöhter Sicherheit Gesichts- und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern ... (NASDAQ: MESG ), ein führender ... das Unternehmen mit SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals ... Finanzdienstleistungsbranche, wird die Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen ...
(Date:3/21/2016)... Massachusetts , March 22, 2016 ... facial recognition with passcodes for superior security   ... ), a leading provider of secure digital communications services, ... their biometric technology and offer enterprise customers, particularly those ... secure facial recognition and voice authentication within a mobile ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with ... in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical ... novel compounds designed to target cancer stemness pathways, ... been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. ... of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. ... designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Md. , June 23, 2016 A person ... from the crime scene to track the criminal down. ... the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA ... sequencing to support investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This ... introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: