Crop Biotech Update

Knowing How Cells Grow and Divide Leads to More Robust and Productive Plants

April 24, 2019

Research teams from VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (Belgium), the University of Nottingham (UK), Heidelberg University (Germany), and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) have identified a novel component that controls the development of root branches supporting plants.

The teams looked at how plants deal with changing environments specifically with temperature extremes and drought stress, and explored how (lateral) roots evolved and developed. To investigate organ formation in plants, the research teams used root branching as their model system and discovered a new component through which plants control the process.

The researchers explored which genes are expressed during the early stages of the process, leading to the identification of a cell wall modifying enzyme – a molecule that regulates chemical reactions – that controls the cell divisions leading to the growth of a new root. They found that mutations in the gene that codes for this enzyme led to swelling of root cells that give rise to a new lateral root and resulted in subsequent defects in the first asymmetric cell divisions during the formation of root branches.

For more details, read the news article at the VIB website.