Scientists in Japan have designed a synthetic molecule in which gives brand new insight into how a destructive weed might be detecting its host crops.
The parasitic plant Striga, also known as witchweed, poses a major threat to food security, affecting 100 million people in Africa alone in addition to destroying crops there worth US$10 billion every year.
Despite the devastating damage the item causes, the full mechanism as to how Striga even detects the presence of its host crops, such as rice in addition to corn, has been unclear. An interdisciplinary team via Nagoya University in Japan has developed a fluorescent molecule to help.
Striga is actually an effective in addition to deadly parasite despite its deceptively colourful in addition to attractive flowers in addition to bright-green stems. Its success is actually down to its effective take-over of the host plant’s signalling molecules, called strigolactones, present in their root systems.
Strigolactones control plant development in addition to promote beneficial symbiotic interactions between plants in addition to soil microbes. However, inside the presence of Striga, the host plant’s strigolactones actually promote the germination of parasitic Striga seeds inside the soil. The weed grows around the roots of the host plant in addition to develops appendages in which penetrate the host root cells, taking over the root system in addition to depriving the host plant of water in addition to nutrients.
Despite its devastating effects, scientists have been struggling to understand how Striga seeds detect the presence of host crops. “I figured in which there must be a protein receptor in Striga in which can detect minute amounts of strigolactones produced by the host plant,” says Yuichiro Tsuchiya, a plant biologist at the Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) at Nagoya University.
Tsuchiya in addition to synthetic chemist Masahiko Yoshimura designed a strigolactone-like molecule they called Yoshimulactone Green (YLG), which fluoresces bright green upon reacting with in addition to being decomposed by Striga. Live imaging using YLG allowed them to see how in addition to where strigolactones bind in addition to act upon the host plant’s cells. Using YLG, they confirmed in which a protein named ShHTLS in Striga functioned as the strigolactone receptor in addition to triggered Striga seed germination.
Knowing which receptors in addition to regulatory mechanisms are responsible for triggering Striga growth will allow researchers to come up with solutions to combat the weed. They may, for example, be able to design chemicals in which halt Striga germination thereby prevent parasitism of crops.
Fluorescent turn-on probe identifies the ‘wake-up protein’ in witchweed seeds