Editors' ChoicePlant biology

Germination signals illuminated

Sci. Signal.  25 Aug 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 391, pp. ec244
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aad2810

The noxious weed Striga can take down an entire crop. Fields in Africa are particularly susceptible to the devastation it can cause. Striga seeds germinate in response to faint traces of the hormone strigolactone released by its targets. Tsuchiya et al. designed a mimic of strigolactone that, when cleaved by the Striga receptor, generates a fluorescent end product. This photogenic mimic lit up Striga seeds upon germination and led to the identification of its strigolactone receptor. Abolishing the activity of this receptor could be an effective defensive strategy.

Y. Tsuchiya, M. Yoshimura, Y. Sato, K. Kuwata, S. Toh, D. Holbrook-Smith, H. Zhang, P. McCourt, K. Itami, T. Kinoshita, S. Hagihara, Probing strigolactone receptors in Striga hermonthica with fluorescence. Science 349, 864–868 (2015). [Abstract][Full Text]