Navigation Links
UC Riverside biochemists devise method for bypassing aluminum toxicity effects in plants
Date:10/3/2008

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Aluminum toxicity, a global agricultural problem, halts root growth in plants, severely limiting agricultural productivity for more than half of the world's arable land.

For many years, scientists have puzzled over how toxic levels of aluminum damage the growing root. The popular understanding is that aluminum binds to several targets in the root system, blocking cell division, damaging DNA, and ultimately interrupting plant growth.

Now, working on the model plant Arabidopsis, a team of UC Riverside biochemists has determined that it is not aluminum toxicity that is directly responsible for inhibiting plant growth. The researchers identified a factor in plant cells, called AtATR, that functions as a built-in DNA surveillance system for alerting the plant of damage from excess aluminum and shutting down growth.

The researchers' experiments showed that AtATR can be manipulated to greatly enhance aluminum tolerance, resulting in plants whose roots can grow normally in soils that contain toxic levels of aluminum.

Study results appear in the Oct. 14 issue of Current Biology.

"Plants actively monitor aluminum-dependent damage through AtATR," said Paul Larsen, an associate professor of biochemistry and the lead author of the study. "But by breaking this assessment mechanism in a plant growing in soil with high aluminum content, we were able to stimulate plant growth again because the plant was no longer able to sense the damage aluminum caused. In other words, by bypassing this growth checkpoint, plants are not able to sense the effects of aluminum; they continue to grow even in an aluminum-toxic environment that is highly inhibitory to a normal Arabidopsis plant."

The research, which gives scientists new insights into how aluminum tolerance works in plants, offers a new strategy for engineering crop plants that can tolerate growth in aluminum-toxic environments, increasing crop production in areas that otherwise could not sustain agriculture.

"Dr. Larsen's work is a significant breakthrough in our understanding of how aluminum toxicity inhibits root growth," said Leon Kochian, a professor of plant biology at Cornell University, who was not involved in the research. "What he has shown, using an elegant combination of genetics, molecular biology and physiology, is that aluminum causes DNA damage in the growing root tip. The cells of this region have a mechanism to monitor this damage and shut down cell division and thus, root growth."

Larsen explained that a root tip has a "quiescent center" that houses stem cells master cells, maintained throughout the life of the root, that develop into cell types and tissues. Aluminum toxicity results in the loss of these stem cells, and consequently cell division, bringing growth to a halt.

"Knocking off AtATR's functioning maintains the quiescent center," said Larsen, who joined UCR's Department of Biochemistry in 2000. "In our study, we broke AtATR throughout the plant. But if we can break this factor only in the root tip, the plant will not sense aluminum's damage to the root. The root then continues to grow and we regain productivity."

The researchers' experiments involved introducing random mutations throughout the genome of Arabidopsis and screening for those roots that can grow in the presence of high levels of aluminum.

A silvery-white metal, aluminum is the most abundant metallic element in the Earth's crust. Never found in the metallic form in nature, it occurs instead in compounds.

Next, Larsen's lab will work on identifying other factors in plants that detect DNA damage. His lab also plans to induce the AtATR mutation into crop plants such as tomato and corn to increase their aluminum tolerance.


'/>"/>

Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UC Riverside biologist receives prestigious MacArthur Fellowship
2. UC-Riverside partners with Chinese university to address Chinas environmental problems
3. Chemicals used as fire retardants could be harmful, UC-Riverside researchers say
4. UC Riverside to host conference on stricter air quality standards for Southern California
5. UC Riverside bioengineer receives high honor from chemical engineers
6. Tahitian vanilla originated in Maya forests, says UC Riverside botanist
7. UC Riverside botanist to study role of plants in southern Californias drought
8. Biochemists reveal details of mysterious bacterial microcompartments
9. Biochemists manipulate fruit flavor enzymes
10. Bioengineers at University of Pennsylvania devise nanoscale system to measure cellular forces
11. UF researchers devise way to calculate rates of evolution
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/3/2017)... LAS VEGAS , Jan. 3, 2017 ... announced the introduction of Onitor Track, an innovative biometric ... and men, showcasing this month at the 2017 Consumer ... . In the U.S., the World ... affect more than two-thirds of adults who are overweight ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... 2016   Valencell , the leading innovator ... STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader serving ... today the launch of a new, highly accurate ... includes ST,s compact SensorTile turnkey multi-sensor ... sensor system. Together, SensorTile and Benchmark deliver the ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... , Dec. 16, 2016 The global wearable medical ... 12.14 billion by 2021 from USD 5.31 billion in 2016, at ... ... mainly driven by technological advancements in medical devices, launch of a ... preference for wireless connectivity among healthcare providers, and increasing focus on ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/17/2017)... , Jan. 17, 2017  Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. ... and full-year 2016 sales and earnings conference call will ... 31, 2017, at 8 a.m. Eastern Time.  A news ... made available at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time the morning ... webcast can be accessed via Zimmer Biomet,s Investor Relations ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... -- Only nine percent of U.S. consumers believe pharmaceutical and ... percent believe health insurance companies do, according to a ... U.S. adults believe health care providers (such as doctors ... (23%). "We are in the midst of ... vice president of reputation management and public affairs at ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... MA (PRWEB) , ... January 17, 2017 , ... ... the completely re-engineered Drug Safety Technology Consortium™ (SafeTEC™), $3 million in investment towards ... validating these new tools and assays, and their applicability in drug safety assessment, ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... , Jan. 17, 2017  On January 10 at ... Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San ... Kittle, Jr. , spoke to pharmaceutical leaders and public ... ProclaRx to break down and destroy biofilms.  ... and prevent antibiotics and the body,s immune system from ...
Breaking Biology Technology: