Biotech Updates

Japanese Scientists Identify Peptide and Receptor Responsible for Plant Root Spacing

January 30, 2019

A team of Japanese scientists has identified a peptide and its receptor that direct lateral roots into growing with the right spacing. The scientists used the plant model Arabidopsis, and were able to identify that the overexpression  of a certain gene, the TOLS2, located in the lateral root founder cells and root germ of the plant, can inhibit the formation of lateral root cells.

Further investigation proved that the receptor of the TOLS2 gene is the RLK7, a protein commonly expressed in the inner sheath of the roots, endodermis, and dermal layer of the plant. Interestingly, the RLK7 expression is not found in the lateral root founder cells and are likely to suppress the formation of lateral roots in cells adjacent to lateral root founder cells. Then using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, the scientists were able to confirm that the TOLS2 peptide and the RLK7 receptor are important in preserving the correct spacing between lateral root founder cells.

According to the researchers, these findings can lead to more studies in the future that will help scientists understand root formation mechanisms of plants and trees, and potentially control their root formation.

Read more from Kobe University and Developmental Cell.