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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Identify Gene that Influences Plant Root Development

October 26, 2016

Scientists at the Molecular Phytopathology Group of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany have identified the gene that controls plant root development and enables symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) fungi.

Land plants live in symbiosis with AM fungi. Both sides benefit from each other: the AM fungi help plants extract nutrients, and the plants supply the AM fungi with carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis. This is the focus of the research of the KIT group headed by Professor Natalia Requena.

The scientists identified the plant gene GRAS transcription factor MIG1 (Mycorrhiza Induced GRAS 1) that is activated specifically by AM fungi. The team studied the role of MIG1 using Medicago truncatula, a snail clover species. They found that MIG1 is expressed most strongly in cells containing arbuscules. It significantly modifies root cortex development by stimulating growth of more and larger root cortex cells. They observed that the overall diameter of the roots increases considerably, while downregulation of MIG1 leads to malformed arbuscules.

For more, read the news release at the KIT website.