Biotech Updates

Thale Cress Elucidates Plant-Pathogen Model System

October 17, 2012

Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) is probably the most studied plant because it has been used as a plant guinea pig. However, it seems that scientists are yet to discover more about this plant. Scientists from the Sainsbury Laboratory and the John Innes Centre used Diamond Light Source, UK's synchrotron science facility to look into the details of the structure of proteins of the plant. This study aims to elucidate how plants react at the molecular level when they are under attack by disease-producing pathogens such as Pseudomonas syringae. The research also represents the 1000th new protein structure to be solved using intense X-rays at the facility.

In their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Dr. Mark Banfield of the John Innes Centre reported the 3D crystal structure of an active part of the effector protein AvrRps4 which gave clues to the protein's activity. Specific strains of P. syringae can directly inject the protein into plant cells probably to weaken the defense system. With the use of the facilities and additional mutagenesis studies, unknown functions of AvrRps4 are unfolded.

Read more at The research article is available at