They are tiny signaling molecules that play essential roles in many processes in living organisms. However, the precise working of those substances is usually still not known, which is why scientists are always looking out for new methods with which they would be able to investigate them further. Researchers on the Universities of Münster (Germany) and Nanjing (China) have developed such a way for an indispensable messenger substance in plants, called phosphatidic acid.
This lipid takes on different functions within the organism: It influences the flexibility and bending of cell membranes, regulates the metabolism of the plant and furthermore serves as a signaling substance to manage the localization or exercise of proteins. However, researchers haven’t been able to find out which a part of the phosphatidic acid pool within the cell has a purpose for the metabolism and which half serves as a signaling substance. A biosensor developed by German and Chinese scientists has now modified this: By incorporating this sensor into plants, they had been capable of track the activity of the phosphatidic acid spatially and temporally for the first time.
“Our strategy permits us to interpret the dynamics of phosphatidic acid extra exactly, especially in plants under stress,” says co-creator Prof. Jörg Kudla from the University of Münster. A plant is stressed, for example, when exposed to dry or salty soils. The measurements obtained with the new method could result in later assist to breed plants which are more resilient to adverse environmental conditions. The examine was published in the journal Nature Plants.