Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists discover new plant hormone

Strigolactones also play a major role outside the plant

Scientists from the Wageningen University Laboratory of Plant Physiology and an international team of scientists have discovered a new group of plant hormones, the so-called strigolactones. This group of chemicals is known to be involved in the interaction between plants and their environment.

Two pea plants: One normal plant and a mutant that cannot produce strigolactones. The second plant is branched. The image also shows parasitic plants growing on the roots of the regular pea plant, while the mutant plant is parasite-free.

The scientists have now proven that strigolactones, as hormones, are also crucial for the branching of plants. The discovery will soon be published in Nature and is of great importance for innovations in agriculture. Examples include the development of cut flowers or tomato plants with more or fewer branches. These crops are of major economic and social importance worldwide.

The growth and development of plants is largely controlled by plant hormones. Plants produce these chemicals themselves, thus controlling the growth and development of roots and stems, for example. A number of plant hormones, such as auxins, giberellins and cytokinins, were discovered by scientists decades ago. Now a new group of hormones has been found: The so-called strigolactones.

Previous research by institutes including Wageningen UR has shown that strigolactones plays a major part in the interaction between plants and their environment. As plants cannot move, they commonly use their own chemicals to control the environment as best as they can.

Strigolactones are of major importance to the interaction between plants and symbiotic fungi, for example. These fungi live in a symbiotic relationship with plants, lthat is mutually beneficial. They transport minerals from the soil to the plant, while the plant gives the fungi sugars ‘in return’.

Unfortunately, the strigolactones have also been “hijacked” by harmful organisms: They help seeds of parasitic plants to germinate when plant roots are in the vicinity. The seedlings of the parasite attach to the root of the plant and use the plant’s nutrients for their own growth and reproduction. Unlike the symbiotic fungi, however, they do not give anything in return. On the contrary, the parasitism often causes the host plant to die, eventually.

The international research team consisting of French, Australian and Dutch scientists, coordinated in France, found mutants of pea that were branching without restraint. It turned out that these pea plants were not capable of producing strigolactones. When the plants were administered strigolactones, the unrestrained branching stopped. The same effect occurred in an entirely different plant, thale cress. The mutant plants also caused a significant lower germination of the parasitic plant seeds and induced less interaction with symbiotic fungi.

The scientists also showed that a specific ‘receptor reaction’ for the strigolactones occurs in plants, a phenomenon that is characteristic for plant hormones. Although some previously discovered plants with unrestrained branching turned out to be producing strigolactones themselves, their receptor connection was disturbed: Strigolactones administered from the outside could not stop the uncontrolled branching.

It has also been shown that the plants are capable of transporting strigolactones internally and that the chemicals work at very low concentrations, two other typical characteristics of plant hormones.

The importance of this discovery of a new group of plant hormones is emphasised by the fact that Nature is publishing an article by a Japanese team in the same issue in which similar results are presented. It is expected that this new knowledge will be applied in agriculture and horticulture, for example in breeding and the development of branching regulators.

Cut flower varieties and potted plants with either more or less branching may have special ornamental value, while crops with more or less branching may be beneficial in cultivation. Tomato plants in which less branching occurs can benefit the greenhouse horticulture, for instance.

Plant breeding and greenhouse horticulture are key agricultural industries in the Netherlands and strongly focussed on innovation.

Jac Niessen | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>