Plants that grow more slowly stay fresh longer. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tuebingen have shown that certain small sections of genes, so-called microRNAs, coordinate growth and aging processes in plants.
Thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana
Photo: Juergen Berger/ Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
These microRNAs inhibit certain regulators, known as TCP transcription factors. These transcription factors in turn influence the production of jasmonic acid, a plant hormone. The higher the number of microRNAs present, the lower the number of transcription factors that are active, and the smaller the amount of jasmonic acid, which is produced by the plant. The plant therefore ages more slowly, as this hormone is important for the plant's aging processes. Since the quantity of microRNAs in the plants can be controlled by genetic methods, it may be possible in future to cultivate plants that live longer and grow faster. (PLoS Biology, September 22, 2008)
MicroRNAs are short, single-strand sections of genes that regulate other genes. They do this by binding to complementary sections of the genetic material, thus preventing them from being read and implemented in genetic products. In plants, microRNAs mainly inhibit other regulators, so-called transcription factors. These factors can switch genes on or off by binding to DNA sections, thus activating or blocking them so that either too many or too few proteins are formed. Since proteins control metabolic processes, an imbalance leads to more or less clearly visible changes to the plant.
The scientists in Detlef Weigel's department at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology have investigated the effects that the transcription factors of the TCP family have on the growth and aging of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. These transcription factors are regulated by the microRNA miR319.
It was already known that miR319-regulated transcription factors affect the growth of leaves. Using a combination of biochemical and genetic analyses, the researchers have now discovered that the transcription factors also regulate those genes that are essential for the formation of the plant hormone jasmonic acid. The higher the quantity of the microRNA miR319 present in the plant, the lower the number of transcription factors that are produced, and hence the smaller the amount of jasmonic acid, which can be synthesized. These plants have longer growth periods and age more slowly than plants that contain less miR319 and therefore have a shorter growth period but die off sooner.
"Our studies show that the transcription factors, which are regulated by the microRNA miR319, exert a negative influence on the growth of plants, and also lead to premature aging," says Detlef Weigel. The mechanism discovered here is a further milestone in the attempt to explain the relationships of genetic regulation in plants. "Only when we have a better understanding of these processes will we be able to produce plants that have particularly desired properties," says biologist Weigel.
Contact:Prof. Dr. Detlef Weigel
Dr. Susanne Diederich | Max-Planck-Institut
Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences