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Antimicrobial Peptides From Plants
By an eHow Contributor
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Antimicrobial peptides in seeds
Antimicrobial peptides are molecular proteins that fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. These peptides, which are referred to as AMPs, are positively charged molecules that are active in plant seeds. The peptides attack cells and kill them helping to rid plant organisms of harmful bacteria. According to the journal "Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences," these antimicrobial peptides are found in almost all plant species.
Peptide discoveries in plants have not been frequent until recently. According to "Oxford Journals" Nucleic Acids Research, in 1942 the first antimicrobial peptide in a plant was discovered by Balls and Hale. They discovered the peptide in a wheat plant. It wasn't until three decades later that another such discovery was made. In 2008 a program called PhytAMP was created to catalog and record information on antimicrobial peptides to allow easier access to the information.
Antimicrobial peptides are cells in the seed of a plant. The peptides help to protect the plant from diseases that could harm it. The antimicrobial peptide cells target bacterial or viral cells and destroy them by breaking them down at the membrane level and eliminating the threat to the plant. Their discovery has lead to breakthrough research and advancement for the medical and agricultural fields.
The journal "Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences" states that antimicrobial peptides are effective by targeting microorganisms at their plasma membranes. The journal also states that there may be peptides that attack by different methods, but these have not yet been discovered. The peptides in the seed of the plant line the outer cell layer of the organ where they can take a defensive stance. The peptides are placed ideally to defend the plant from outside contamination.
Plants produce antimicrobial peptides as a defense against disease-producing viruses or bacterium. According to "Oxford Journals" Nucleic Acids Research, genetic engineering of these AMPs could help to increase antibiotic resistance in plants, which could impact agriculture as well as pharmaceutical industries. Researchers are finding the peptides could mean new developments for future antibiotics.
According to Emilio Montesinos of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Technology at the University of Girona in Spain, antimicrobial peptides are being used to replace pesticides that have been banned in the agricultural industry. Scientists are trying to develop new forms of protection and prevention that are less harmful to the environment and still help farmers grow productive crops.