Biotech Updates

New Research Reveals Atomic Level Defense Secrets of Plants

August 12, 2015

New research led by Michigan State University (MSU) and the Van Andel Research Institute has revealed the molecular secrets of plants' defense mechanisms at the atomic level. The study focuses on the plant hormone jasmonate and its interaction with three key plant proteins, MYC, JAZ, and MED25. Jasmonate plays a crucial role in regulating defenses when plants come under attacks from pests or pathogens, but takes a significant amount of energy to produce, severely affecting plant growth.

In the last decade, scientists have studied the sophisticated ways plants maintain their defenses while protecting their ability to grow. By revealing the structures of the jasmonate signaling complexes, researchers can now see how this crucial hormone pathway is governed. The study shows for the first time how a protein can serve as both a repressor and a receptor, two key roles that are vital for gene expression. In the presence of jasmonate, JAZ repressor becomes a component of the jasmonate receptor complex by changing its shape. The MYC proteins used in jasmonate signaling work with large activating and repressing protein machines that are also found in humans.

For more details about this study, read the news release at the MSU website.