Discovered wild flower that protects itself from disease


An unusual wild flower that accumulates metals in its leaves, it appears to be using them as "armor" against bacterial infections.

Alpine Thlaspi (Thlaspi caerulescens) - a small plant of the cabbage family, which grows in the regions of the UK and Europe, where the soil is rich in metals, for example, the place of former mines. It is known that the plant accumulates in their sheets zinc, nickel and cadmium in very high concentrations, but why it does so long remained a mystery.

Now, scientists at Oxford University have shown that when the plant species Thlaspi caerulescens accumulates metals in its leaves, it thus becomes able to resist bacteria such as Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola. The information published in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

"Our results show evidence that these plants use their habitat rich in metals to defend themselves from disease ’- said Dr Gail Preston (Gail Preston) from the Department of Plant Sciences at Oxford University, co-author of the study. ’What we found - a direct connection between this high concentration of the metal and resistance bacterial infections. "

Helen Fones (Helen Fones), graduate student, perform experimental work, grow plants Thlaspi in progressively higher concentrations of zinc, nickel and cadmium, and proved that all three metals were able to protect the plant from pathogenic bacteria. By studying the various types of bacteria, it has demonstrated the close relationship between the ability of bacteria to grow in high concentrations of metals and their ability to infect plants.

"Before, it was difficult to explain why plants Thlaspi accumulate such high concentrations of potentially toxic metals’ - said Andrew Smith (Andrew Smith), Professor of the Department of Plant Sciences at Oxford University and director of research. "Our data provide strong evidence that, accumulating metals, these plants provide themselves protection against such enemies, such as pathogens or herbivores."

The researchers also showed that the bacteria remaining on plants Thlaspi, growing in areas where previously was the lead-zinc mine in Wales had a higher level of tolerance to zinc than bacteria isolated from plants in normal soils. This indicates that both the plant and its pathogens express confirmation of local adaptation and survival in metal-rich areas, and that pathogens can adapt and overcome the protective properties of plants. Dr. Preston concluded: ’Heavy metals may be part of the evolutionary’ arms race ’between plants and microorganisms that try to colonize them. "

Original: Sciencedaily Translation: M. Potter

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