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Identify a key gene for plant resistance against pathogens and saline soilsqrcode

Jan. 16, 2020

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Jan. 16, 2020
Marcelo Yanovsky and members of his laboratory.

The finding of scientists at the Leloir Institute sets the stage for improving different types of crops.

The regulation of the same key gene could increase the ability of plants to defend against pathogens and resist harsh soils.

"Our finding has no direct application, but it can help improve different types of crops in the future in a more efficient way," said the director of the finding, Dr. Marcelo Yanovsky, director of the Plant Genomics Laboratory of the Leloir Institute Foundation ( FIL) and CONICET researcher.

FIL researchers conducted experiments on Arabidopsis thaliana , a plant model that shares genes with corn, wheat, soybeans and other important crops.

After "breaking" or inhibiting the PRP40C gene, the researchers observed with surprise two effects: the plants were more susceptible to saline stress and more resistant to infections such as "bacterial spot", a disease that causes millions of losses to potato producers, onion, kiwi, tomato and many other crops.

“In this work we also identify genes whose expression is regulated directly or indirectly by PRP40C and that are associated with the response of the immune system of plants and the manufacture of proteins that function as pumps that expel salts to the external environment of cells or they enclose them inside to safeguard growth and develop plants, ”explained one of the authors, Dr. Esteban Hernando, a CONICET researcher in Yanovsky's group.

The study, published in "Frontiers in Plant Science" , is the first work that describes the physiological role of a member of the PRP40 family of proteins in plants. And it is also the first to make a global description of the transcriptome (set of "messenger RNAs" that carry instructions from genes to synthesize proteins) of an organism with the expression of the affected PRP40 gene.

"In addition, we found that the PRP40C gene regulates important processes of plant development, such as the time it takes for the plant to bloom and the perception of red light that provides key information about the environment related to the day or seasons," said another of the authors, the biologist Mariano García Hourquet, a doctoral fellow of the Yanovsky laboratory.

“It would be feasible to think about optimizing the function of the PRP40C gene so that the plant can simultaneously defend against pathogens and resist saline soils. If this is achieved in Arabidopsis thaliana, one could think of the possibility of transferring these capacities to crops of interest, ”Yanovsky concluded.

The study also included Santiago Mora García, María José de Leone, Daniel Careno and Javier Iserte, FIL and CONICET.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in Spanish. This English summary has been prepared with Google Translate and edited for clarity.

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