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Plant researchers locate transporter used for nicotine metabolism
Date:11/1/2011

ication of the transporter is a first step in understanding details about how the tobacco plant manages nicotine transport processes. So far, it is known that the chemical is made in the roots of tobacco plants, as a response to a pathogen attack. When ingested by insects and other organisms, it is a powerful neurotoxin, causing paralysis. Once produced in the roots, it is transported up through the rest of the plant by tube-like passageways called xylem and accumulates in the leaves. Tobacco farmers harvest nicotine by collecting the plant's leaves.

The scientists were able to locate the transporter using a "guilt by association" tactic, Jelesko said. The NUP1 gene was identified by looking for genes that were turned up or down in concert with known nicotine biosynthesis genes. The discovery of the transporter helps scientists gain new insight into the overarching field of medicinal alkaloid production in plants, Jelesko said. Understanding the complete process could enable bioengineering of medicinal plants to produce an optimal amount of compounds beneficial for treatment.


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Contact: Lindsay Key
ltkey@vt.edu
540-231-6594
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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