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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Find Protein Responsible for Orchid Shape

May 6, 2015

Researchers from National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan have found the proteins responsible for determining the shape of orchid lips. In the study, the researchers took a closer look at plant genes A,B,C,D and E, which prior research has shown as responsible in general for plant shape. They looked at the proteins that are expressed by the B class in orchids as it has been found to be heavily involved in petal formation.

The research team found that there were two types of protein complexes, one called the L complex (for Lip) and another called the SP complex (for sepa-petal). Both protein complexes were made up of four proteins, and they found that there was a tug-of-war between the complexes. When one exerted more influence, the plant exhibited more of that attribute. To prove their findings, they introduced a virus that was capable of knocking out one or the other of the protein complexes—in the absence of an L complex, the lip was replaced by a normal petal, whereas in the absence of an SP complex, the lip was prominent.

For more details, read the abstract of the paper published in Nature Plants.