Probing strigolactone receptors in Striga hermonthica with fluorescence

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Science  21 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6250, pp. 864-868
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3831

Germination signals illuminated

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.

Science, this issue p. 864


Elucidating the signaling mechanism of strigolactones has been the key to controlling the devastating problem caused by the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica. To overcome the genetic intractability that has previously interfered with identification of the strigolactone receptor, we developed a fluorescence turn-on probe, Yoshimulactone Green (YLG), which activates strigolactone signaling and illuminates signal perception by the strigolactone receptors. Here we describe how strigolactones bind to and act via ShHTLs, the diverged family of α/β hydrolase-fold proteins in Striga. Live imaging using YLGs revealed that a dynamic wavelike propagation of strigolactone perception wakes up Striga seeds. We conclude that ShHTLs function as the strigolactone receptors mediating seed germination in Striga. Our findings enable access to strigolactone receptors and observation of the regulatory dynamics for strigolactone signal transduction in Striga.

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