Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant escape from waterlogging

17.10.2017

Researchers at Kiel University have discovered a previously unknown mechanism by which plant roots avoid oxygen-deficient soil

Researchers are warning about more frequently occurring extreme weather events in the future as a result of climate change. Current environmental catastrophes such as the numerous and particularly severe tropical hurricanes this year tend to confirm this trend. These extreme weather events are often accompanied by flooding, which increasingly affects agricultural land.


Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) is ideally suited as a model organism for lab experiments.

Photo: Emese Eysholdt-Derzsó


Emese Eysholdt-Derzsó, doctoral researcher in the Plant Developmental Biology and Plant Physiology research group at Kiel University, investigated root bending.

Photo: Christian Urban, Kiel University

This flooding is becoming an ever more serious problem for crop cultivation, because the majority of intensively grown crops are not very tolerant to too much water. Greater losses in yield are becoming apparent. At the same time, the pressure on the available agricultural land to produce crops is rapidly increasing in light of a growing global population.

In this context, CAU researchers in the Plant Developmental Biology and Plant Physiology research group at Kiel University’s Botanical Institute are looking at the effects of global climate change on plant growth. Using the example of a model plant that is frequently used in labs, Arabidopsis thaliana, also known as thale cress, doctoral researcher Emese Eysholdt-Derzsó investigated how plants respond to low oxygen stress that results from too much water.

“In her work, Eysholdt-Derzsó describes for the first time how waterlogging and the related oxygen deficiency change the growth direction of thale cress roots and she deciphered which genetic mechanisms control the plants’ adaptation,” emphasized the head of the research group, Professor Margret Sauter. The Kiel-based research team recently published these new findings in the research journal Plant Physiology.

Soil conditions that are wet and hence low in oxygen are life-threatening for the majority of plants because they prevent the roots from growing and from absorbing nutrients. For a certain time, however, they can adapt to waterlogging with various protective mechanisms. The researchers at Kiel University have now examined how oxygen deficiency affects the growth and the overall root structure of thale cress.

To do so, they exposed seven-day-old Arabidopsis seedlings to different oxygen regimes in alternation: they were confronted with low-oxygen growth conditions for a day, followed by normal conditions for a day. The experiments showed that the roots tried to escape the low-oxygen conditions by growing to the side. To do so, the plants use a genetically determined regulatory mechanism that prevents the normal, downwards root growth. Instead, the roots grow horizontally where it is more likely to reach more oxygen-rich soil areas.

“We were able to show that this process is reversible. As soon as enough oxygen was available, the roots then started normal downwards growth again,” said the main author, Eysholdt-Derzsó.

The Kiel-based scientists called this entire process ‘root bending’. They were able to decipher the genetic regulation responsible for it: five of the overall 122 members of the ERF transcription factor family of thale cress are responsible for the roots responding to stress from too much water. They activate genes that ensure targeted distribution of the plant growth hormone, auxin, in the roots.

As a consequence, this phytohormone is asymmetrically relocated in the root tissue. As auxin acts as an inhibitor, the root grows more slowly in places with higher concentrations of the hormone, causing the root to bend. The distribution of auxin in the root and thus the triggering of root bending can be seen with a fluorescence auxin marker.

Thale cress belongs to the crucifer plant family and is related to rapeseed or various cabbage plants. It is therefore highly likely that the findings gained from the model organism can be transferred to different crops. Future research will help to further investigate and understand the mechanism of root bending on other plants as well. The researchers’ long term goal is to possibly succeed in transferring the findings to crops, in order to increase their tolerance to waterlogging in the future and thus reduce agricultural yield losses.

This research project was financed as part of the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) single project funding.

Original publication:
Emese Eysholdt-Derzsó, Margret Sauter (2017): “Root bending is antagonistically affected by hypoxia and ERF-mediated transcription via auxin signaling”. Plant Physiology
https://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.17.00555

Photos/material is available for download:

http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2017/2017-318-1.jpg
Caption: The lack of oxygen in the soil as a result of waterlogging causes the Arabidopsis root to bend (on the right of the image).
Image: Emese Eysholdt-Derzsó

http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2017/2017-318-2.jpg
Caption: Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) is ideally suited as a model organism for lab experiments.
Photo: Emese Eysholdt-Derzsó

http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2017/2017-318-3.jpg
Caption: The phyto-hormone auxin (fluorescent on the right hand edge of the image) inhibits the growth on one side and bends the Arabidopsis root.
Image: Emese Eysholdt-Derzsó

http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2017/2017-318-4.jpg
Caption: Emese Eysholdt-Derzsó, doctoral researcher in the Plant Developmental Biology and Plant Physiology research group at Kiel University, investigated root bending.
Photo: Christian Urban, Kiel University

http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2017/2017-318-5.jpg
Caption: The researchers used thale cress seedlings to investigate root bending. The seedlings were grown under controlled conditions.
Photo: Christian Urban, Kiel University

Contact:
Prof. Margret Sauter
Botanical Institute and Botanical Gardens, Kiel University
Tel.: +49 (0)431-880-4210
E-Mail: msauter@bot.uni-kiel.de

More information:
Plant Developmental Biology and Plant Physiology (Sauter research group),
Botanical Institute and Botanical Gardens, Kiel University:
http://www.sauter.botanik.uni-kiel.de

Priority research area “Kiel Life Science”, Kiel University:
http://www.kls.uni-kiel.de/en

Kiel University
Press, Communication and Marketing, Dr. Boris Pawlowski
Address: D-24098 Kiel, phone: +49 (0431) 880-2104, fax: +49 (0431) 880-1355
E-Mail: ► presse@uv.uni-kiel.de, Internet: ► www.uni-kiel.de
Twitter: ► www.twitter.com/kieluni, Facebook: ► www.facebook.com/kieluni, Instagram: ► www.instagram.com/kieluni
Text / Redaktion: ► Christian Urban

Christian Urban | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>