The way of plant disease resistance: the great discovery of cell membrane information transmission in China

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 The way of plant disease resistance: the great discovery of cell membrane information transmission in China


Great discovery of cell membrane information transmission in China

The effector proteins of viruses and bacteria carry a signal pathway from cell membrane to chloroplast in plants to inhibit plant immunity. (Photos)

Plants are the basis of human survival. They convert solar energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis to produce the oxygen we need. However, plants will also face various threats and be attacked by plant pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, which can lead to illness and even death. Data show that plant pathogens cause huge losses to global crop production every year, which seriously threatens world food security.

Among them, the recognition and response of signals occur at the plant cell level. On the surface of plant cells, there is a layer of cell membrane which can isolate the internal and external environment of cells. Therefore, plants need to sense specific molecules through the cell membrane to understand the existence of potential external attackers, and send out alarm, which will be transmitted to different cell compartments, and finally to the nucleus where genetic material is stored, so as to regulate the expression of plant disease resistance genes. Chloroplast, as a special organelle of photosynthesis, plays a key role in regulating plant response to stimuli, which is very important for plant survival.

For a long time, how to transmit this warning information in cells has become the focus of scientists exploration in the field of plants. Recently, good news came from China. The research team of Shanghai Research Center for plant stress biology, Center for excellence and innovation of molecular plant science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, has revealed an important signal transmission pathway connecting cell membrane and chloroplast. The relevant achievements have been published in the international famous academic journal Cell.

The study revealed how some plant proteins are associated with cell membranes and how they migrate from cell membranes to chloroplasts when pathogens are perceived, warning that chloroplasts are at risk. Then, chloroplasts transmit these information to the nucleus through the retrograde signaling process, which regulates the expression of disease resistance genes and activates defense against invaders. This pathway is one of the strategies for plant cells to transmit danger signals from the outside world to chloroplasts, which can integrate signals quickly, timely and accurately and produce appropriate downstream response.

For a long time, plant pathogens and their hosts have been in the process of coevolution similar to arms race. The study found that pathogens can hijack this way of transmitting information within plant cells. Some proteins from plant viruses and bacteria can cleverly mimic the above plant protein behavior, bind to cell membranes, and move to chloroplasts when plant cells feel the attack. Once they enter the chloroplast, they will damage the communication between chloroplast and nucleus, thus hinder the activation of plant defense response and help them survive and reproduce.

It is also found that different types of pathogens have evolved similar strategies to achieve the purpose of inhibiting plant defense, which strongly proves that this signal transduction pathway connecting cell membrane and chloroplast plays a key role in the interaction between plants and microorganisms. This study provides a new idea for the design of plant protection strategies and the development of new disease resistant varieties. (reporter Shen zejin)

Source: Economic Daily editor in charge: Zhang Zutao_ NT5054