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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Discover Key Mechanism that Regulates Shape and Growth of Plants

August 26, 2011

A research team at University of British Columbia (UBC) headed by Geoffrey Wasteneys discovered that the inherent geometry of the cell itself has a vital role in the self-organization of microtubules into parallel arrays that guide cell growth and division. A microtubule-associated protein called CLASP works like a foreperson, controlling the geometric constraints of the cell.

They used a specialized microscope that collects three dimensional images of plant components that were genetically engineered to fluoresce when exposed to specially filtered light. Significant differences in the arrangement of microtubules were observed between the normal plants and the dwarf mutant that do not produce CLASP.

These finding do not just elucidate the key mechanism in the direction of plant growth and the biopolymers they produce, but also to cellular mechanisms in animals, fungi, and protests since microtubules and CLASP are common to all cell types.

The research paper is available at http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v2/n8/full/ncomms1444.html.