Nav: Home

How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants

October 27, 2016

The fungus Piriformospora indica colonizes the roots of different plants. This can be orchids, tobacco, barley or even moss. It penetrates into the roots, but does not damage the plants. On the contrary, it can even promote the growth of its plant partners. Such and other interactions between the fungus and its partners are already known to the scientific community.

Research groups from Cologne and Würzburg are now reporting a new facet of the fungus-plant relationship in Nature Communications: The researchers identified a protein with which the fungus suppresses the immune defence of the populated plants. So it makes sure that it is not attacked like disease-inducing fungi and the relationship can succeed in the long run.

The protein "Fungal Glucan Binding 1" (FGB1) causes, inter alia, the plant not to produce an "oxidative burst". This usually generates aggressive oxygen radicals, which destroy potential pathogens and activate the immune system of the plant.

Protein makes the plant blind to fungus structures

How does the protein lame the immune response of the plant? "It binds highly affine and very specific to sugar molecules that sit in the cell wall of the fungi and which are normally recognized as 'foreign' by the plant," explains Professor of Molecular Biology Alga Zuccaro from the University of Cologne. FGB1 acts like a camouflage coat and conceals the foreign sugar molecules from the immune system.

The relevant sugar molecules are beta-1,3 / 1,6-glucans, according to Jürgen Seibel, a professor of Organic Chemistry at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg. The fact that fungal glucans have a positive effect on human immune systems has been known for a long time. It is less known that they can also stimulate the immune system of plants.

The fact that the immune defence is suppressed by FGB1 in the case of Piriformospora indica, Zuccaro and Seibel can now demonstrate by combining the know-how of their working groups. The Cologne molecular biologist is an expert on root-colonizing fungi and the plant immune system, the Würzburg chemist is a specialist for sugar molecules and their functions in cells and organisms.

Perspective for medical diagnostics

The new findings may be useful in medicine and plant breeding. Given that the newly discovered protein FGB1 has such a high affinity and specificity to beta-1,6-glucans from fungi cell walls, it is possibly suitable for the diagnosis of human infections. In addition, the new knowledge could contribute to the cultivation of plants with increased disease resistance in the long term.

The next step is to examine how the plants recognize the beta-1,3 / 1,6-glucans and how exactly FGB1 suppresses them.
-end-


University of Würzburg

Related Immune System Articles:

The immune system may explain skepticism towards immigrants
There is a strong correlation between our fear of infection and our skepticism towards immigrants.
New insights on how pathogens escape the immune system
The bacterium Salmonella enterica causes gastroenteritis in humans and is one of the leading causes of food-borne infectious diseases.
Understanding how HIV evades the immune system
Monash University (Australia) and Cardiff University (UK) researchers have come a step further in understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) evades the immune system.
Carbs during workouts help immune system recovery
Eating carbohydrates during intense exercise helps to minimise exercise-induced immune disturbances and can aid the body's recovery, QUT research has found.
A new model for activation of the immune system
By studying a large protein (the C1 protein) with X-rays and electron microscopy, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have established a new model for how an important part of the innate immune system is activated.
Guards of the human immune system unraveled
Dendritic cells represent an important component of the immune system: they recognize and engulf invaders, which subsequently triggers a pathogen-specific immune response.
How our immune system targets TB
Researchers have seen, for the very first time, how the human immune system recognizes tuberculosis (TB).
How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants
A newly discovered protein from a fungus is able to suppress the innate immune system of plants.
A new view of the immune system
Pathogen epitopes are fragments of bacterial or viral proteins. Nearly a third of all existing human epitopes consist of two different fragments.
TB tricks the body's immune system to allow it to spread
Tuberculosis tricks the immune system into attacking the body's lung tissue so the bacteria are allowed to spread to other people, new research from the University of Southampton suggests.

Related Immune System Reading:

The Immune System, 4th Edition
by Peter Parham (Author)

How the Immune System Works (The How it Works Series)
by Lauren M. Sompayrac (Author)

Basic Immunology: Functions and Disorders of the Immune System
by Abul K. Abbas MBBS (Author), Andrew H. H. Lichtman MD PhD (Author), Shiv Pillai MBBS PhD (Author)

The Immune System Recovery Plan: A Doctor's 4-Step Program to Treat Autoimmune Disease
by Susan Blum (Author), Mark Hyman (Foreword), Michele Bender (Foreword)

The Immune System: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Paul Klenerman (Author)

The Immune System, 3rd Edition
by Peter Parham (Author)

The Immune System Cure: Optimize Your Immune System in 30 Days-The Natural Way!
by Lorna Vanderheaghe (Author)

The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners: A No-Stress Meal Plan with Easy Recipes to Heal the Immune System
by Dorothy Calimeris (Author), Lulu Cook (Author)

A Guide to Transfer Factors and Immune System Health: 2nd edition, Helping the body heal itself by strengthening cell-mediated immunity
by Aaron White PhD (Author)

Boost Your Immune System: 7 Steps You Can Start TODAY To Regain Your Health and Prevent Disease (Book 1)
by InterConnections, LLC

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Where Joy Hides
When we focus so much on achievement and success, it's easy to lose sight of joy. This hour, TED speakers search for joy in unexpected places, and explain why it's crucial to a fulfilling life. Speakers include inventor Simone Giertz, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, journalist David Baron, and musician Meklit Hadero.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#500 500th Episode
This week we turn 500! To celebrate, we're taking the opportunity to go off format, talk about the journey through 500 episodes, and answer questions from our lovely listeners. Join hosts Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders as we talk through the show's history, how we've grown and changed, and what we love about the Science for the People. Here's to 500 more episodes!