Navigation Links
Plant gene clusters for natural products
Date:3/20/2008

John Innes Centre scientists have found that plants may cluster the genes needed to make defence chemicals. Their findings may provide a way to discover new natural plant products of use as drugs, herbicides or crop protectants. Using a gene cluster that makes an antifungal compound in oats as a template, they uncovered a previously unknown gene cluster making a related compound in a very different species, and now want to extend the search to other plants.

Anne Osbourn and colleagues previously found that the genes needed to make an antifungal compound in oats, called avenacin, were next to each other in the genome. One of a group of chemicals known as triterpenes, avenacin is produced exclusively by oats and protects the roots against a wide spectrum of fungal diseases. Gene clusters are common in bacteria and fungi but extremely rare in plants. Maize has a gene cluster for a defence-related compound, and another possible cluster has been reported in rice.

Could other plant gene clusters exist, and how do they arise? To investigate this, the researchers used the signature of the avenacin genes to scan the genome of the model plant Arabidopsis. Publishing in the journal Science, they identified a gene cluster for a new pathway that makes and modifies a triterpene called thalianol, which has not been found in plants before. The thalianol gene cluster consists of four genes next to each other in the Arabidopsis genome. The first gene, responsible for making thalianol, is from the same family as the gene for the first step of the avenacin pathway in oats. The next three genes in the thalianol cluster are responsible for making sequential modifications to thalianol. Having successfully discovered one gene cluster, the researchers now plan to look for other gene clusters that may produce novel natural products of value for crop protection or as medicines, and investigate how and why these clusters evolve.

Although the oat, maize, rice and this new Arabidopsis gene clusters make related products, they have been assembled independently of each other as a result of relatively recent evolutionary events. This suggests that plant species are able to show remarkable plasticity in their genomes to assemble these gene clusters. Understanding the evolutionary driving forces behind their assembly will give insights into why some plant product pathways are maintained in these clusters whilst others are not, and this may have implications for our understanding of plant metabolism.

Clustering genes together lets plants easily inherit an entire pathway. The thalianol gene cluster is one of the most conserved areas of the genome, suggesting that this beneficial combination of genes has recently and rapidly spread throughout the population. Breaking up a gene cluster can have severe consequences. When the avenacin pathway is blocked then unfinished intermediates accumulate that can have a toxic effect on the roots, making them deformed and ineffective. Intermediates which affect plant growth also accumulate when the thalianol synthesis pathway is blocked. If these intermediates accumulate in parts of the plant where the thalianol pathway is usually not present then they cause severe stunting of growth. Dr Ben Field, who contributed to the research, said "This suggests that gene clusters, as well as keeping beneficial combinations of genes together, may prevent toxic side-effects by strictly controlling where and when the pathway is switched on."


'/>"/>

Contact: Andrew Chapple
andrew.chapple@bbsrc.ac.uk
44-016-032-51490
Norwich BioScience Institutes
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Less can be more, for plant breeders too
2. Systems biology approach identifies nutrient regulation of biological clock in plants
3. Plant Physiology and TAIR partnership will provide genetic information to public database
4. A common genetic mechanism discovered in nitrogen-fixing plants
5. Mechanisms of plant-fungi symbiosis characterized by DOE Joint Genome Institute
6. Scientists uncover a novel mechanism that regulates carbon dioxide fixation in plants
7. Will global warming increase plant frost damage?
8. Breakthrough in plant research
9. Gene that controls ozone resistance of plants could lead to drought-resistant crops
10. Purging the plantain pests in Africa
11. Nitrogen pollution boosts plant growth in tropics by 20 percent
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Plant gene clusters for natural products
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016 The field ... one of the most popular hubs of the ... and other huge studies of human microbiota, have ... few years, the microbiome space has literally exploded ... research. This report focuses on biomedical aspects ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 3, 2016 --> ... report "Automated Fingerprint Identification System Market by Component (Hardware ... (Banking & Finance, Government, Healthcare, and Transportation) and Geography ... market is expected to be worth USD 8.49 Billion ... 2015 and 2020. The transformation and technology evolution from ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/d8zjcd/emotion_detection ) ... "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by Technology ... Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and Others), ... Global forecast to 2020" report to ... ) has announced the addition of the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... 10, 2016  Matchbook, Inc., a company specializing ... biotech companies, announced today the appointment of ... Jim brings nearly 25 years of experience in ... spent nearly two decades in executive level roles ... at Genzyme and, most recently headed global logistics ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... 2016 , ... SonaCare Medical, LLC reports the introduction of ... monitoring. The inaugural launch of this new technology occurred over the course of ... to a HIFU technical expert at SonaCare Medical headquarters. , Sonalink allows ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 , ... Cenna Bioscience ... for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, announced today it has been selected to present ... at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. The purpose of the Forum is ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... 08, 2016 , ... Date and time: March 1, 2016, ... Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County, 3805 Old Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18902. ... hold an open house for participants to learn about a new Master of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: