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Crop Biotech Update

Roadblock to Nutrient Selection and Harmful Microorganisms in Plant Roots

June 3, 2011

Plants absorb water and nutrients from its roots. Amazingly, they are able to filter nutrients from the soil and protect itself from disease causing microorganisms. A recent paper by scientists from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland published in the journal Nature reports a transmembrane proteins called CASPs (Casparian strip membrane domain proteins) which can do the job well. CASPs are at the Casparian Strips which are specialized cell wall material present in the root endodermis that generate an extracellular diffusion barrier.

Niko Geldner, one of the researchers on the project said, "The CASPs form a sort of trellis on which other proteins then come to fix themselves to in order to form a sequence which leads to the creation of an extremely effective three-dimensional 'roadblock'. This fascinating discovery will allow us to better understand how the roots are capable of selecting good nutrients and eliminating the bad ones. In other words, how plants feed themselves."

This new knowledge can be a prelude to a cascade of research  to improve the uptake of nutrients by developing plants which need less water and fertilizer, thus, a more sustainable type of agriculture.

The research news can be seen at http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS_FP7&ACTION=D&
DOC=12&CAT=NEWS&QUERY=01304e6c6737:7923:58b40a09&RCN=33445
.