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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Discover Longevity Gene in Plants

April 22, 2020
Left: withering wild-type Arabidopsis about to die. Right: an overexpressed plant that continues to grow. Photo Source: Omid Karami | Leiden University

Researchers from the University of Leiden have discovered a gene that allows annual plants to grow after flowering, instead of dying. Using Arabidopsis, first author Omid Karami demonstrated how the AHL15 gene works. He overexpressed the gene in Arabidopsis so that it is much more active than normal.

In the modified Arabidopsis plants, some growing points remained in the vegetative phase. The plants continued to grow after flowering and can blossom several times. When the researchers disabled the gene, they noticed that the plants had a shorter lifespan than normal. By doing so, they demonstrate that the AHL15 gene, which they have named REJUVENATOR, regulates plant longevity.

The discovery of AHL15 gene contributes to fundamental knowledge about plant life history and aging, says Offringa. The gene may also provide answers to the question of why certain species are annuals and others are perennial. According to Offringa, practical applications are also conceivable, such as for agriculture. Many food crops, such as rice and wheat, are annuals.

For more details, read the article from the University of Leiden.

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