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Crop Biotech Update

Study Reveals New Insight into "Immortal" Plant Cells

December 20, 2017

A new study conducted by a research team from The John Innes Centre (JIC) led by Dr. Xiaoqi Feng reveals that plants have a reprogramming mechanism that allows them to maintain fitness down the generations. The team made the discovery while studying germ cells in flowering plants. Germ cells, specialized for sexual reproduction, are referred to as "immortal" because they pass genetic material through the generations.

The JIC team worked with colleagues from the University of Leicester to reveal for the first time the existence of DNA methylation changes in the germline of flowering plants. They also revealed that this reprogramming happens via a process known as de novo (anew) DNA methylation and its biological significance in maintaining reproductive success.

Dr. Feng explained, "Our research shows that developmentally regulated DNA methylation reprogramming can regulate plant development. Scientists have been searching for this for a long time. We show that genes can be regulated in specific cells via the de novo DNA methylation pathway, which is prevalent in many plant tissues, hence this mechanism may apply to many processes in plants."

For more details, read the JIC News and Events.