Research Promotion Division (RPD),

Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM), Nagoya University


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Molecule Gallery:


The successful discovery of a method for observing the germination process of Striga

The parasitic plant Striga has dealt a heavy blow to the production of cereals in Africa. In order to eradicate it, it is necessary to clearly understand the process by which it infects its host plant. Although it was already understood that Striga responded to a molecule released from the roots of the host plant,

the mechanism by which it did so was unclear. In order to understand this germination mechanism, the ITbM research group developed a molecule known as Yoshimulactone that would produce a green fluorescence when exposed to a particular protein present in Striga. Through the use of this molecule, they were not only able to see in detail the process of Striga germination, but also find the protein (the receptor) that induced the germination.

The story behind Yoshimulactone

In a now-legendary meeting, Mr. Masahiko Yoshimura, at the time a graduate student, was eating ramen with researchers when he was struck by an idea: a molecule that would fluoresce at the exact point that it bonded with the Striga seed’ s receptor. This idea focused on two properties: firstly, that the shape of existing fluorescent molecules resembled the shape of germination stimulating molecules produced by host plants, and secondly that the breaking down of the germination-stimulating molecules would occur in a particular place significant to the understanding of the germination process. As a result of the development of Yoshimulactone, as well as finding out when and where the receptor is activated at the point of germination, through using synthetic germination-stimulating molecules and Yoshimulactone competitively it has become possible to identify germination-stimulating molecules, representing



"Probing strigolactone receptors in Striga hermonthica with fluorescence" by Yuichiro Tsuchiya, Masahiko Yoshimura, Yoshikatsu Sato, Keiko Kuwata, Shigeo Toh, Duncan Holbrook-Smith, Hua Zhang, Peter McCourt, Kenichiro Itami, Toshinori Kinoshita and Shinya Hagihara, Science 2015, 349, 6520. DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3831


Research Promotion Division (RPD),

Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM), Nagoya University


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