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Meridian Institute

Witchweed - Destructive by Nature

Summary posted by Meridian on 5/18/2017

Source: Phys.org (17 May 2017)

Author(s): n/a

Scientists at Nagoya University, Japan, have designed a synthetic molecule that could aid the understanding of how the destructive weed Striga, or witchweed, is detecting its host crops. Striga is a parasitic plant that poses a major threat to food security, affecting 100 million people in Africa by destroying crops, such as rice and corn, worth US$10 billion every year. Striga takes over the host plant’s signaling molecules, strigolactones, which control plant development and promote symbiotic interactions between plants and soil microbes, and, instead, make them promote the germination of Striga seeds in the soil. Scientists have struggled to understand how Striga seeds detect the presence of host crops. "I figured that there must be a protein receptor in Striga that can detect minute amounts of strigolactones produced by the host plant," says Yuichiro Tsuchiya, a plant biologist. He and synthetic chemist Masahiko Yoshimura designed a strigolactone-like molecule that fluoresces bright green upon reacting with and being decomposed by Striga. The technology allowed them to determine that a protein, ShHTLS, in Striga functions as a strigolactone receptor and triggers Striga seed germination. Their work could help researchers come up with solutions to combat the weed.

The original article may still be available at https://phys.org/news/2017-05-witchweeddestructive-nature.html

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