High tech burglary: How nasty bacteria get access to your pantry, then dine and dash.

We used an optical sensor technology to identify the molecular nature of these elusive efflux transporters; a novel class of sugar transporters called SWEETs present in both plants and humans. Bacterial and fungal pathogens activate the production of the transporters at the site of infection in order to tap the plant’s sugar resources with the goal of producing lots of offspring. Mutation of the transporter gene protects crop plants such as rice from pathogen infection. Our work highlights that research on the model plant Arabidopsis is an efficient means to learn about sugar transport in crops and even in humans. Our work may have relevance for developing novel crop protection technologies as well as medical applications related to diabetes and obesity.

Published manuscript in Science Express: Sucrose Efflux Mediated By Sweet Proteins As A Key Step For Phloem Transport
Carnegie Science Press Release: How Pathogens Hijack Host Plants
Nature.com: Sugar transporters for intercellular exchange and nutrition of pathogens
Nature.com: Cell biology: Raiding the sweet shop
Nature.com: Pathogenesis: The SWEET life of pathogens