Biotech Updates

Some Plants Duplicate their Chromosomes to Overcome Distress

August 5, 2011

Endoreduplication or the duplication of chromosomes without cell division is not new to molecular biologists. However, a new study conducted by University of Illinois professors Ken Paige and Daniel Scholes searched for the relationship of this process and increase in growth and reproductive fitness of plants after they have been partially grazed. They used Arabidopsis thaliana plants in the study and observed that they repeatedly double their chromosomes in some cell types, starting with 10 chromosomes then reaching up to 320 after several duplications.

According to Scholes, the added DNA content would lead to increased protein levels, which is needed for growth and reproduction. More DNA would also mean bigger cells, thus, the size of the whole plant would increase.

"We've tracked the plants through generations, so we know that the ones that get eaten actually have up to a three-fold reproductive advantage over the ones that are never eaten," Paige said. "Now we are beginning to understand the molecular mechanisms that make this possible."

Read the media release at