Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New gene discovered: sheds light on the evolution of life on Earth

25.07.2011
An international study, based on a doctoral thesis conducted at the University of Haifa, has discovered how a newly discovered gene played a central role in the transition of aquatic plants to land plants a process that led to life on land as we know it today.

A chance discovery of a genetic mutation in wild barley that grows in Israel's Judean Desert, in the course of a doctoral study at the University of Haifa, has led to an international study deciphering evolution of life on land. The study has been published in the prestigious journal PNAS. "Life on Earth began in the water, and in order for plants to rise above water to live on land, they had to develop a cuticle membrane that would protect them from uncontrolled evaporation and dehydration. "In our study we discovered a completely new gene that along with other genes contributes to the formation of this cuticle," said Prof. Eviatar (Eibi) Nevo of the Institute of Evolution of the University of Haifa, who took part in the study.

In the course of doctoral research carried out by Guoxiong Chen, which began at the University of Haifa in 2000 under the supervision of Prof. Nevo, the Chinese doctoral student found a mutation of wild barley in the Judean Desert that was significantly smaller than regular wild barley. It was found that this mutation causes an abnormal increase in water loss because of a disruption in the production of the plant's cutin that is secreted from the epidermal cells and is a component in the plant's cuticle that reduces water loss and prevents the plant's dehydration.

Guoxiong Chen has since returned to China and achieved full professorship while continuing his study of the Judean Desert's wild barley for which he enrolled an international team of scholars from China, Japan, Switzerland and Israel. After about eight years of research, this team discovered a new gene that contributes to the production of cutin, which is found in all land plants but is either nonexistent or present in tiny amounts in aquatic plants. Chen called this new gene Eibi1, in honor of his supervisor, Prof. Nevo.

"This is one of the genes that contributed to the actual eventuality of life on land as we know it today. It is a key element in the adaptation process that aquatic plants underwent in order to live on land," explained Prof. Nevo. Besides the evolutionary importance of this new gene, it is also of value in the future enhancement of cereals. According to Prof. Nevo, once we can fully understand the mechanism behind the production of cutin and discover genetic variants of the Eibi1 gene, we will have the ability to enhance the cuticle formation of wheat and barley species so as to make them more resistant to water loss and more durable in the dryer conditions on land. "Genetic enhancement of cultivated plants to make them durable in dry and saline conditions can increase food production around the world," the researcher concluded.

For more information:
Rachel Feldman
Division of Marketing and Media
University of Haifa
press@univ.haifa.ac.il
+972-54-5352435

Rachel Feldman | University of Haifa
Further information:
http://www.haifa.ac.il

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>