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:2/13/2017)... 2017 Former 9/11 Commission border counsel and ... Janice Kephart of Identity Strategy Partners, LLP, today ... "Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist ... "As President Trump,s ,Travel Ban, Executive Order gains ... banned the travel ban, it is important that our ...
(Date:2/9/2017)... , Feb. 9, 2017 The biomass boiler ... of the biomass boiler market globally in terms of ... biomass boilers. The market for biomass boilers has been ... end-user, application, and country/region. The market based on feedstock ... forest residues, biogas & energy crops, urban residues, and ...
(Date:2/8/2017)... Inc. (NASDAQ: AWRE ), a leading supplier of ... quarter and year ended December 31, 2016. ... compared to $6.9 million in the same quarter last year. ... million compared to $2.6 million in the fourth quarter of ... $0.5 million, or $0.02 per diluted share, which compares to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/25/2017)... ... February 25, 2017 , ... ... Clinical Trials in an ongoing effort to create meaningful change by increasing ... pharmaceutical research with emphasis on consumers and patients’ mental health well-being. , Both ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... ... February 24, 2017 , ... Chef Jodi Abel has returned ... Making stops in several cities, she gained a number of delicious recipes and new ... a town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. It is internationally renowned for ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... Symic Bio, a biopharmaceutical company focused on ... therapeutics, announced today the completion of enrollment for the ... The trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of ... of restenosis following angioplasty. "We,re pleased ... said Nathan Bachtell , M.D., Chief Medical Officer ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... , ... February 24, 2017 , ... FireflySci, Inc is ... in late 2014, FireflySci had the goal of bringing their powerful cuvette ... to shape the path that FireflySci is going on as they add yet another ...
Breaking Biology Technology: