Plants ‘talk’ to plants to help them grow

Contact: Hilary Glover hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com 44-020-319-22370 BioMed Central

Having a neighborly chat improves seed germination, finds research in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Ecology. Even when other known means of communication, such as contact, chemical and light-mediated signals, are blocked chilli seeds grow better when grown with basil plants. This suggests that plants are talking via nanomechanical vibrations.

Monica Gagliano and Michael Renton from the University of Western Australia attempted to grow chilli seeds (Capsicum annuum) in the presence or absence of other chilli plants, or basil (Ocimum basilicum). In the absence of a neighboring plant, germination rates were very low, but when the plants were able to openly communicate with the seeds more seedlings grew.

However when the seeds were separated from the basil plants with black plastic, so that they could not be influenced by either light or chemical signals, they germinated as though they could still communicate with  the basil. A partial response was seen for fully grown chilli plants blocked from known communication with the seeds.

Dr Gagliano explained, “Our results show that plants are able to positively influence growth of seeds by some as yet unknown mechanism. Bad neighbors, such as fennel, prevent chilli seed germination in the same way. We believe that the answer may involve acoustic signals generated using nanomechanical oscillations from inside the cell which allow rapid communication between nearby plants.”

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Notes to Editors

1. Love thy neighbour: facilitation through an alternative signalling modality in plants Monica Gagliano and Michael Renton BMC Ecology (in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central’s open access policy.

2. BMC Ecology is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on environmental, behavioral and population ecology as well as biodiversity of plants, animals and microbes.

3. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector. @BioMedCentral

New evidence that chili pepper ingredient fights fat

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

Capsaicin, the stuff that gives chili peppers their kick, may cause weight loss and fight fat buildup by triggering certain beneficial protein changes in the body, according to a new study on the topic. The report, which could lead to new treatments for obesity, appears in ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

Jong Won Yun and colleagues point out that obesity is a major public health threat worldwide, linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems. Laboratory studies have hinted that capsaicin may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue, and lowering fat levels in the blood. Nobody, however, knows exactly how capsaicin might trigger such beneficial effects.

In an effort to find out, the scientists fed high-fat diets with or without capsaicin to lab rats used to study obesity. The capsaicin-treated rats lost 8 percent of their body weight and showed changes in levels of at least 20 key proteins found in fat. The altered proteins work to break down fats. “These changes provide valuable new molecular insights into the mechanism of the antiobesity effects of capsaicin,” the scientists say.

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ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE “Proteomic Analysis for Antiobesity Potential of Capsaicin on White Adipose Tissue in Rats Fed with a High Fat Diet”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/pr901175w

CONTACT: Jong Won Yun, Ph.D. Department of Biotechnology Daegu University Kyungsan, Kyungbuk Korea Phone: 82-53-850-6556 Fax: 82-53-850-6559 Email: jwyun@daegu.ac.kr