Jan. 8, 2019
Researchers have discovered a new use for the protein that bacteria use as the needle of an injection to infect citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers and other crops.
After an investigation carried out by scientists from Rosario, it was discovered that this protein, called HrpE, develops immune responses in plants.
The bacterial protein is present in the pathogens of the genus Xanthomonas, whose varieties cause diseases in different crops of economic importance. Researchers from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario (IBR), dependent on CONICET and the National University of Rosario, also identified the protein of the plant that interacts with HrpE and triggers a response in the plant immune system to defend itself against a microbial attack, according to the publication of the Agency, CyTA-Fundación Leloir.
"Knowing at a molecular level of the interaction that takes place between plants and microorganisms capable of generating diseases opens the way for the development of resistant plants to pests that cause enormous economic losses," said the study's directors, Dr. Jorgelina Ottado and Natalia Gottig, in charge of the Laboratory at the IBR.
To arrive at these findings, the scientists isolated HrpE proteins from a citrus pathogen (Xanthomonas citri subsp. Citri) and inoculated them in a plant widely used in the study of plant physiology, Arabidopsis thaliana. Molecular analysis revealed that HrpE interacts with a protein from a family known as "CsGRP", and that it is crucial to activate the immune response. When the researchers inhibited the gene that directs their production, the plants were unable to defend themselves.
"The knowledge of these mechanisms and others pave the way for the future development of crops resistant to pests with the consequent decrease in the use of agrochemicals harmful to the environment," Gottig told the Agency CyTA-Fundación Leloir.
The finding was published in the journal, Scientific Reports
. The other authors of the study are Cecilia Vranych, Germán Sgro and Ainelén Piazza, also researchers of the IBR.