Generation of antibodies for the study of plant polysaccharides


An antibody is a reagent with defined binding properties. Antibodies are produced by antibody-secreting cells obtained from an animal`s immune system. Such antibodies, known as monoclonal antibodies as they are produced by one clone of cells, are important tools for labelling biological molecules.

We will use a small number of rats to isolate cells secreting antibodies directed to polysaccharides found in plants. Polysaccharides are large polymers of sugars with a range of properties and they are used extensively by plants to maintain their robust cell and organ structures and they are also components of plant secretions. Antibodies can bind to specific sugars and therefore enable us to study the roles of plant polysaccharides in cells and secretions with precision. An important set of targets will be the polysaccharides released from crop roots into soils. These polysaccharides have soil-binding properties and they help maintain appropriate soil conditions around roots. This basic scientific research will underpin understanding in plant biology and crop sciences. Antibodies binding to root-released polysaccharides will enable the development of screening strategies to identify root-soil traits that can be incorporated into crop-breeding programmes. The antibodies will be distributed to research groups around the world to support plant science research.

Plan of work

Up to 10 target polysaccharides will be identified for the isolation of antibody-secreting cells using a maximum of 20 rats across 5 years. Individual immunisation procedures will continue for no more than six months.

Animal Welfare

Exploiting animal immune systems is currently the most effective way to isolate reagents of appropriate specificity for the study of polysaccharides. Animal use will be kept to a minimum and all interventions will be of mild severity. All animals will be maintained and cared for by experienced and dedicated animal welfare staff who will also carry out all required interventions. Once the antibody producing cell lines are isolated from immunised rats, they will be available indefinitely without further use of animals. 

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