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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Unlock Secrets of Plant Development

August 29, 2018

Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have discovered an internal messaging system that plants use to manage the growth and division of their cells.

The research team, led by UBC botany professor Geoffrey Wasteneys discovered that the system is driven by a protein called CLASP. It is found in plants, animals, and fungi, and plays an essential role in cell growth and division by coordinating the assembly of filaments within cells. Its gene in plants was first identified by Wasteneys in 2007.

The production of CLASP is reduced by a plant-growth hormone called brassinosteroid. The research team exposed thale cress to brassinosteroid and found that the exposure stunted the plants in a way that closely resembled mutant versions of the plant that lacked the CLASP protein altogether.

The researchers also discovered that CLASP prevents the degradation of brassinosteroid receptors. When CLASP is scarce, brassinosteroid becomes less effective, resulting in CLASP levels rising again. Essentially, the protein and the hormone affect each other in a negative-feedback loop.

For more details, read the UBC News.