Results could lead to advancements in corn crop yields and farming techniques
Boron deficiency is one of the most widespread causes of reduced crop yield. Missouri and the eastern half of the United States are plagued by boron deficient soil and, often, corn and soybean farmers are required to supplement their soil with boron; however, little is known about the ways in which corn plants utilize the essential nutrient.
Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that boron plays an integral role in development and reproduction in corn plants. Scientists anticipate that understanding how corn uses the nutrient can help farmers make informed decisions in boron deficient areas and improve crop yields.
“Boron deficiency was already known to cause plants to stop growing, but our study showed that a lack of boron actually causes a problem in the meristems, or the stem cells of the plant,” said Paula McSteen, associate professor in the Division of Biological Sciences and a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center at MU. “That was completely unknown before. Through a series of experiments involving scientists from several disciplines at MU, we were able to piece together the puzzle and reach a new conclusion.”
Meristems comprise the growing points for each plant, and every organ in the plant is developed from these specialized stem cells. Insufficient boron causes these growing points to disintegrate, affecting corn tassels and kernels adversely. When tassels are stunted, crop yields are reduced, McSteen said.
The research evaluated a group of plants stunted by its ability to grow tassels. Kim Phillips, a graduate student in McSteen’s lab, mapped the corn plant’s genome and found that a genetic mutation stunted tassel growth because it was unable to transport boron across the plant membranes, inhibiting further growth in the plants.
Amanda Durbak, a post-doctoral fellow in the College of Arts and Science at MU, also helped prove boron’s usefulness to meristems. She treated two groups of tassel-less corn, one with a boron fertilizer and the other with only water. The group that was treated with boron grew normally, while the group treated with water withered.
Further testing revealed that, at the cellular level, the affected plants’ meristems had altered pectin which is strengthened with boron and stabilizes the plant cell. Without the pectin, plant meristems disintegrate.
“By using various techniques and expertise at MU, including genomics, translational experiments with frog eggs, research in the field, cellular testing, and evaluations at the MU Research Reactor Analytical Chemistry facility and at MU Plant and Soil Analysis Facility, the study team drew conclusions that will help corn producers make informed decisions about raising crops in boron deficient zones,” McSteen said.
Researchers at the University of Georgia and at California State University, Long Beach also contributed to this study. The paper, “Transport of boron by the tassel-less 1 aquaporin is critical for vegetative and reproductive development in maize,” was published in The Plant Cell and was funded in part by the National Science Foundation.
Editor’s Note: For a longer version of this story, please visit: “Critical transport: Bond LSC team finds boron vital for plant stem cells, corn reproduction.”
For related video, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gpYwS4wO8Y.
Jeff Sossamon | Eurek Alert!
Two Most Destructive Termite Species Forming Superswarms in South Florida
27.03.2015 | University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Greater-than-additive management effects key in reducing corn yield gaps
18.03.2015 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...
The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.
As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...
When an earthquake hits, the faster first responders can get to an impacted area, the more likely infrastructure--and lives--can be saved.
The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe.
Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been...
Because they are regularly subjected to heavy vehicle traffic, emissions, moisture and salt, above- and underground parking garages, as well as bridges, frequently experience large areas of corrosion. Most inspection systems to date have only been capable of inspecting smaller surface areas.
From April 13 to April 17 at the Hannover Messe (hall 2, exhibit booth C16), engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP will be...
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
17.03.2015 | Event News
27.03.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
27.03.2015 | Materials Sciences
27.03.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation