Real-Time Analysis of Plant Hormones in Tomato Leaves Using a Tiny Sensor

Jenn Hoskins
7th July, 2024

Real-Time Analysis of Plant Hormones in Tomato Leaves Using a Tiny Sensor

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Nantong University developed a new sensor system for real-time monitoring of plant hormones IAA and SA
  • The sensor system can track hormone fluctuations in plant tissues with minimal damage
  • In tomato leaves infected with a bacterial pathogen, the sensor detected increased SA levels and suppressed IAA production
The interplay of plant hormones, particularly Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and salicylic acid (SA), is crucial for understanding plant growth and response mechanisms. Traditional methods for hormone detection, like liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, fall short in providing real-time data due to complex sample processing. Researchers at Nantong University have developed a novel microneedle electrochemical sensor system for the real-time assessment of IAA and SA in plant tissues[1]. IAA and SA are pivotal regulators in plant physiology, influencing growth, stress responses, and disease resistance. Understanding their real-time dynamics is essential for advancing agricultural practices and plant biology. Previous studies have shown that hormones play significant roles across kingdoms, with animal hormones affecting plant development and vice versa[2]. Additionally, auxin, a type of IAA, is known to regulate various aspects of plant development, including root formation and crop architecture[3][4][5]. However, precise and continuous monitoring of these hormones in vivo has been challenging. The new sensor system designed by the researchers at Nantong University addresses this challenge. It consists of a stainless steel (SS) wire (100 μm diameter) coated with carbon cement and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, a plain platinum wire (100 μm diameter), and an Ag/AgCl wire (100 μm diameter). The system employs differential pulse voltammetry and amperometry to detect SA and IAA within the range of 0.1-20 μM, respectively. This setup allows for real-time tracking of hormone fluctuations in plant tissues with minimal damage. In their study, the researchers applied the sensor to monitor IAA and SA levels in tomato leaves infected with PstDC3000, a bacterial pathogen. They observed an increase in SA levels following infection, while IAA production was suppressed. This aligns with previous findings that hormones like auxin (a form of IAA) are involved in plant stress responses and development[3][4]. The ability to monitor these changes in real-time offers valuable insights into the plant's defense mechanisms and hormonal regulation. The sensor system's design makes it economical and suitable for mass production, which is a significant advantage for widespread agricultural applications. It can be used for long-term monitoring of hormone levels in smaller plant tissues, providing continuous data that can enhance our understanding of hormone interactions and regulatory mechanisms. This is particularly relevant for precision agriculture, where real-time data can inform better crop management practices. Furthermore, this study ties into the broader context of hormone interactions in plants and animals. Previous research has shown that animal hormones can influence plant development and enhance environmental resistance, while phytohormones can impact animal health[2]. The ability to monitor plant hormones in real-time can thus have implications beyond plant biology, potentially informing research in cross-kingdom hormonal regulation. In summary, the novel microneedle electrochemical sensor system developed by Nantong University represents a significant advancement in the real-time monitoring of plant hormones IAA and SA. It offers a practical and efficient tool for in vivo hormone detection, propelling research into plant regulatory mechanisms and supporting the development of precision agriculture. By providing continuous data on hormone fluctuations, this sensor system can help unravel the complex interactions between hormones, ultimately contributing to improved agricultural practices and plant health.

AgricultureBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) Microneedle electrochemical sensor based on disposable stainless-steel wire for real-time analysis of indole-3-acetic acid and salicylic acid in tomato leaves infected by Pst DC3000 in situ.

Published 8th August, 2024 (future Journal edition)

Related Studies

2) Interkingdom Hormonal Regulations between Plants and Animals Provide New Insight into Food Safety.

3) Systems biology of root development in Populus: Review and perspectives.

4) A matter of time: auxin signaling dynamics and the regulation of auxin responses during plant development.

5) Auxin regulation on crop: from mechanisms to opportunities in soybean breeding.

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