Navigation Links
Mildew-resistant and infertile

This release is available in German.

Mildew infections not only cause unsightly vegetable patches, they can also result in extensive crop failure. Interestingly, the processes involved in infections with this garden pest are similar to those involved in fertilisation. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and the University of Zurich have identified two proteins in the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana that are necessary for both fertilisation and infection with powdery mildew. This explains why mildew-resistant plants, in which these genes are mutated, are infertile. (Science, Vol 330, p 968-971)

Pollen tubes and hyphae, the filamentous structures of which fungi are formed, not only look very similar, they also require similar proteins. The two proteins in question, which have just been discovered, are named after the Etruscan fertility goddesses Feronia and Nortia. The scientists discovered that these proteins are both beneficial and harmful to plants. They link the capacity for seed formation with the absence of resistance to mildew infection.

Feronia signals to the pollen tube, which germinates from the pollen, that it has reached its destination and that it is time to release the male gametes. The protein is also formed in the leaves, however, and provides mildew with access to the plant. For the latter to become resistant to the intruder, both the maternal and paternal copies of the feronia gene must be defective. If the plant lacks the feronia protein, however, the pollen tube does not stop growing at the entrance to the embryo sac but continues to penetrate into the female part of the flower and does not trigger the release of sperm cells. As a result, fertilisation does not take place and an embryo does not develop.

The protein Nortia is also involved in fertilisation; however, it does not occur in the leaves. A protein known as MLO, which is closely related to Nortia, is found there instead. MLO makes plants, e.g. barley, in which Ralph Panstruga discovered the MLO gene a few years ago, prone to mildew. However, they only become resistant if both copies of the MLO gene are mutated. Because Arabidopsis has three MLO genes that play a role in susceptibility to mildew, in this plant, six copies must become defunct before it becomes resistant to mildew. Various other genes exist, however, that also cause resistance to fungal infections in plants.

Resistant or fertile

Feronia and Nortia are formed by the helper cells of the embryo sac. They bring about the fusion of the gametes in the ovary. Feronia and MLO in the leaves enable mildew to penetrate into the plant. "This dual function indicates why evolution has not yet succeeded in blocking this point of access to mildew. It would clearly be very difficult to decouple these two functions. Therefore, the alternatives are: resistant and infertile, or vulnerable and fertile," says Ralph Panstruga from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.

Feronia is a receptor that apparently directly influences Nortia. However, the scientists do not yet know how Feronia cooperates with Nortia and MLO. "Our goal is to breed mildew-resistant plants based on Feronia mutants that are also fertile," says Panstruga. This is a very ambitious aim, as evolution appears not to have produced any such mutants up to now. Feronia evidently plays such an important role in the ovary and the leaves that the plant simply cannot manage without it.


Contact: Dr. Ralph Panstruga

Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Mildew-resistant and infertile
(Date:6/15/2016)... , June 15, 2016 ... market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application Market - Global ... 2016 - 2024". According to the report, the  global ... billion in 2015 and is estimated to grow ... 48.56 billion by 2024.  Increasing application ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... LONDON , June 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... Transport Management) von Nepal ... ,Angebot und Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich ... weltweit führend in der Produktion und Implementierung ... an der Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... , June 1, 2016 Favorable ... Election Administration and Criminal Identification to Boost Global Biometrics ... recently released TechSci Research report, " Global Biometrics Market ... Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", the global ... by 2021, on account of growing security concerns across ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... for clinical trials, announced today the Clinical Reach Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT ... care circle with the physician and clinical trial team. , Using the CONSULT module, ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... -- Liquid Biotech USA , Inc. ... Research Agreement with The University of Pennsylvania ("PENN") ... patients.  The funding will be used to assess ... outcomes in cancer patients undergoing a variety of ... to support the design of a therapeutic, decision-making ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 Epic Sciences unveiled a ... susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination ... The new test has already been incorporated into ... cancer types. Over 230 clinical trials ... pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced ... this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: