Arabidopsis thaliana, or thale cress as it is commonly known, made history back in 2000 by becoming the first plant to have its entire genetic code read by scientists, contributing to what is often referred to as biology's version of the book of life. Today, the ‘microscopes’ scientists have access to allow them to zoom down much further into the structure of the proteins that are made by the genes, so taking the book of life and making sense of the tiny letters on the pages. Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, makes this detailed structural biology possible. In an unusual combination, state-of-the-art experimental facilities and thale cress, a humble weed, are at the centre of research that sheds light on how plants behave when they are under attack from disease-producing pathogens. The study also represents the 1000th new protein structure to be solved using the intense X-rays at Diamond.
Scientists from the Sainsbury Laboratory and the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park, who are studying the ‘molecular warfare’ that occurs when plants find themselves under attack from disease-producing pathogens, have used the synchrotron’s powerful structural biology capabilities to investigate the interplay between thale cress and the bacteria Pseudomonas syringae, a well-known plant-pathogen ‘model’ system. Certain strains of P. syringae can also cause diseases like bacterial speck or canker in important crop species such as tomato.
About the John Innes Centre
The John Innes Centre, www.jic.ac.uk, is a world-leading research centre based on the Norwich Research Park http://www.norwichresearchpark.com. The JIC’s mission is to generate knowledge of plants and microbes through innovative research, to train scientists for the future, and to apply its knowledge to benefit agriculture, human health and well-being, and the environment. JIC delivers world class bioscience outcomes leading to wealth and job creation, and generating high returns for the UK economy. JIC is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and received a total of £27.5M investment in 2011-12.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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