Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Some plants duplicate their DNA to overcome adversity

01.08.2011
Whatever does not kill a plant may actually make it stronger. After being partially eaten by grazing animals, for example, some plants grow bigger and faster and reproduce more successfully than they otherwise would. In a new study, researchers report that one secret to these plants' post-traumatic triumph lies in their ability to duplicate their chromosomes – again and again – without undergoing cell division.

While this process, called "endoreduplication," is not new to science, no previous study had looked at it in relation to the seemingly miraculous burst of growth and reproductive fitness that occurs in many plants after they have been grazed, said University of Illinois animal biology professor Ken Paige, who conducted the study with doctoral student Daniel Scholes.

"If you talk to a molecular biologist, they might know what endoreduplication is, but they haven't looked at it from the perspective of whole plant reproductive success," Scholes said. "We tried to link the two and found out there is a link there."

The study appears in the journal Ecology.

The researchers looked at Arabidopsis thaliana, a flowering plant in the mustard family that repeatedly duplicates its chromosomes in some cell types. The plant begins with only 10 chromosomes – five from each parent – but after repeated duplications, some cells contain up to 320 chromosomes.

The researchers compared the DNA content of two cultivars of A. thaliana that respond very differently to being grazed. Of the 160 specimens of each cultivar studied, half were artificially grazed (by clipping their central stems) and half were not. One of the cultivars, Columbia, rebounded dramatically after clipping, quickly regrowing stems and leaves and producing more seeds than the unclipped plants. In the other cultivar, Landsberg erecta, growth remained steady after clipping and the level of seed production declined.

A look at the number of chromosomes in the tissues of each plant type before and after clipping revealed that Columbia was able to rebound in part by speeding up endoreduplication in some tissues after clipping. Its sister cultivar, Landsberg erecta, however, did not.

"The overall DNA content goes up in one of the cultivars after clipping, but it doesn't change in the other," Paige said. "And we think it's that added boost that increases its reproductive success."

The added DNA content could allow the plants to increase production of proteins that are needed for growth and reproduction, Scholes said. More DNA also means larger cells.

"Because you have more DNA in the nucleus, you must have a greater nuclear volume, which causes your entire cell to get bigger," Scholes said. Increases in the size of individual cells can ultimately lead to an increase in the size of the whole plant.

"We tend to think that what you inherit is what you're stuck with," Scholes said. "But we're finding that plants are increasing what they have, and for the first time we're beginning to understand how they do that, and why."

In earlier studies conducted over 30 years, Paige found that – even in natural settings – plants can evolve the ability to bounce back after grazing.

"We've tracked the plants through generations, so we know that the ones that get eaten actually have up to a three-fold reproductive advantage over the ones that are never eaten," he said. "Now we are beginning to understand the molecular mechanisms that make this possible."

The National Science Foundation and the University of Illinois Research Board funded this study.

Editor's notes: To reach Ken Paige, call 217- 244-6606; email k-paige@illinois.edu.

The paper, "Chromosomal Plasticity: Mitigating the Impacts of Herbivory," is available from the U. of I. News Bureau

Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>