Sunday 13 March 2016

Gut bacteria help cabbage fly survive toxins

Date: March 9, 2016
Source: Radboud University

The cabbage fly is a small animal with a big impact. Its larvae infest the roots of cabbage plants, and their family members like rapeseed. Up to fifty percent of yield loss has been reported. With two to three generations a year cabbage fly is a pest to fear. It is an enigma how these animals can withstand the enormous amount of toxins cabbage plants produce.

A complete ecosystem
'As microbiologists we wondered if the gut bacteria had something to do with it,' says Cornelia Welte from Radboud University in the Netherlands. 'In a metagenomics analysis we found a gene coding for an enzyme that performed a special trick: it degrades isothiocyanates, cabbage toxins, into harmless pieces. We isolated the enzyme and put it in a test-tube with isothiocyanates -- and they disappear...

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