Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Explain How A Protein Helps Plants "Muscle Up" Bacteria in the Cold

January 31, 2018

A study conducted by scientists from Michigan State University has provided details on how a plant protein, called CAMTA, helps plants strengthen themselves as they anticipate long periods of cold, such as three to four months of winter in the American midwest or northern Europe.

CAMTA proteins, which are universally found in plants, help turn on genes that communicate freezing tolerance to plants. In the study, CAMTA proteins were observed to also control how plants defend against harmful bacteria under long-term cold conditions. It was found that in the cold, plants build up high levels of salicylic acid (SA), a compound that protects them against bacteria.

During long periods of cold temperature, an unknown signal is generated that modifies CAMTA to turn on SA production. In that case, the C-terminus, or the bottom of an amino acid chain that is stopped by a free carboxyl group, detects the signal -- possibly a rise in cellular calcium levels -- that enables SA biosynthesis. This observation reverses current accepted models, which propose instead that the C-terminus blocked SA production.

For more details, read the MSUToday.