Spain: Progress in research on plant protection hormone

Ángel M Zamarreño and Jose M Garcia-Mina, researchers of the Bach group of the Department of Environmental Biology of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Navarre, have collaborated in a research led by the CSIC (Superior Council of Scientific Research) thanks to which a new pathway for jasmonic acid biosynthesis in plants has been discovered (the jasmonate hormone is considered essential in the plants' defence against pathogens and stress situations).

This study, published recently in Nature Chemical Biology, appearing on the February cover of the publication, has been directed by Roberto Solano and his team at the National Centre for Biotechnology of the CSIC, collaborating also with various European groups. One of them is the Bach group of the University of Navarre, whose researchers have participated in the identification of the main metabolites involved in the new synthesis pathway for jasmonic acid, as explained by Professor García-Mina.

This finding could lead to more efficient crop cultivation. According to Andrea Chini, CNB-CSIC scientist and first author of the study, "for decades, we have taken for granted that there was only one way to generate the jasmonate hormone in plants. It is a deeply studied and perfectly described pathway. Our work reveals that the plants secretly kept an alternative pathway that allows them to have access to the hormone whenever they need it."

According to the authors, the peculiarities of this new pathway are still unknown. "It may be activated only when the traditional pathway fails, or only in response to specific stimuli. What seems clear is that it has played a significant role throughout evolution and probably precedes the best-known pathway."

The researcher from the University of Navarre Ángel M Zamarreño adds that "this research may contribute to the future development of more effective strategies for the protection of crops against different types of stress."


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