Cell Identity Mediates Plant Stress Response

May 23, 2008

Knowledge on how development relates to plants’ response to the environment will be necessary for predicting changes in species distribution and crop improvement, especially in the face of climate change. However, not much is known about the interplay of these important factors. A paper published by Science shed new light on the subtleties of plant stress response. Scientists from Duke University and University of Michigan characterized the transcriptional response to high salinity and iron deficiency of different cell layers and developmental stages of the Arabidopsis root. They found out that a large proportion of the genes are regulated in a cell-specific manner, which suggests that cell type-specific processes are common targets for stress regulation. The transcriptional state of a cell is largely a reaction to environmental conditions that are regulated by a smaller core set of genes that stably determines cell identity.

 Read the complete paper at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/320/5878/942?rss=1 A perspective article summarizing the results of the experiment and its implications is available at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/320/5878/880