PLANT BIOLOGY: Closing the Wound -- Hurtley 308 (5720): 326c -- Science:
In the normal cut and thrust of everyday life, nonfatal injuries are common, and organisms rely on rapid repair mechanisms to stanch the loss of fluids. Adolph et al. have studied the invasive tropical green alga Caulerpa taxifolia, which lives as single polyploid multinucleated cells. In the early 1980s, Caulerpa invaded the Mediterranean, and its mechanism of wound repair may have contributed to its high growth rates. When the algal cells are mechanically broken, a gelatinous material consisting of cross-linked proteins rapidly plugs the wound and results in two cells, each with a full genomic inheritance. Polymer formation depends on the enzymatic unmasking of caulerpenyne, the dominant secondary metabolite of the alga. Its 1,4-bis-enoylacetate moiety is transformed into a dialdehyde, which reacts with nucleophilic groups of algal proteins, forming a life-saving plug. -- SMH
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 44, 10.1002/anie.200462276 (2005).
Evolution of a novel wound healing technique. It's allowing the species to invade a new habitat, a perfect example of "survival of the fittest."