“The key is in the fuzzy coat of hairs on the roots of plants” says Professor Liam Dolan. “We have identified a growth control mechanism that enables these hairs to find their way and to elongate when their path is clear”.
Root hairs explore the soil in much the same way as a person would feel their way in the dark. If they come across an obstacle, they feel their way around until they can continue growing in an opening. In the meantime, the plant is held in place as the hairs grip the soil.
This ability is governed by a self-reinforcing cycle. A protein at the tip of root hairs called RHD2 produces free radicals that stimulate the uptake of calcium from the soil. Calcium then stimulates the activity of RHD2, producing more free radicals and further uptake of calcium. When an obstacle blocks the hair’s path, the cycle is broken and growth starts in another location and direction.
“This remarkable system gives plants the flexibility to explore a complex environment and to colonise even the most unpromising soils”, says Professor Dolan.
“It also explains how seedlings are able to grow so quickly once they have established”.
In nutrient poor soils such as in parts of Australia and sub-Saharan Africa, plants have adapted by producing more root hairs. A better understanding of this adaptation will allow the development of crops able to grow in inhospitable environments.
This research was funded by the BBSRC, a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship and MEXT of Japan.
Zoe Dunford | alfa
Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences
Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.03.2018 | Life Sciences