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:4/26/2016)... BANGALORE, India and LONDON ... Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a ... ), and Onegini today announced a partnership to ... banking solutions.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ... banks to provide their customers enhanced security to ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... 20, 2016 The new GEZE ... compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all door components. ... or the door interface with integration authorization management system, ... systems. The minimal dimensions of the access control and ... building installations offer considerable freedom of design with regard ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the ...  report to their offering.  ,      ... gait biometrics market is expected to grow at ... Gait analysis generates multiple variables such ... compute factors that are not or cannot be ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... offering new biological discoveries to the medical community, has ... and co-founder Matthew Nunez . "We ... provide us with the capital we need to meet ... funding will essentially provide us the runway to complete ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Velocity Products, a division of ... and optimized exclusively for Okuma CNC machining centers at The International Manufacturing Technology ... among several companies with expertise in toolholding, cutting tools, machining dynamics and distribution, ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... NEW YORK , June 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... the growing next generation sequencing (NGS) market include ... adoption of smaller sequencers.  More accessible and affordable ... led to growing demand for consumables including sample ... The Market for Sample Preparation for Next ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... ... June 22, 2016 , ... The ... on immigrant achievements and contributions to North Texas and the nation, recently held ... the immigrant community to the civic and economic vitality of North Texas. Proceeds ...
Breaking Biology Technology: