Friday, 18 November 2016

New insight into fungal strategy for infecting plants

Researchers from UPM id reveal how mould from humidity caused by rotting fruits and vegetables unfolds a surprising strategy to infect plants.

A team of researchers from Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (CBGP, UPM-INIA), has published the results on "Alt a 1" in an article released in Scientific Reports from the Nature group. "Alt a 1" is a strongly allergenic protein found in certain endophytic fungi species that causes severe asthma.

This study provides better understanding of the role played by this protein in the pathogenicity of the fungus. Besides, the mechanism identified in plants can also provide information of clinical interest about respiratory diseases and allergies caused by these fungal.

Spores of certain Alternaria fungus that appear as mold in plants of most of our crops are present in the atmosphere throughout the year. Alt a 1 is a strongly allergenic protein present in the spores of Alternaria alternata before germination. "Alt a 1" is responsible for infections and common respiratory conditions and is also considered as the major allergen associated with chronic asthma.

The pathogenic action of this protein is linked to the production of certain toxic compounds and the increasing production of reactive oxygen species by plants which are toxic agents that cause the cell death. "Alt a 1" interacts with defense proteins that plants express when are attacked by inhibiting their activity. The Alternaria spores remain on the surface of the plant without inducing symptoms while waiting for the right moment to germinate. When this occurs, the spores provoke a cascade of processes.

For further details, see:

María Garrido-Arandia, Javier Silva-Navas, Carmen Ramírez-Castillejo, Nuria Cubells-Baeza, Cristina Gómez-Casado, Domingo Barber, Juan C. Pozo, Pablo G. Melendi, Luis F. Pacios, Araceli Díaz-Perales. Characterisation of a flavonoid ligand of the fungal protein Alt a 1. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 33468 DOI: 10.1038/srep33468

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle