Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Trio of plant genes prevent ’too many mouths’


A signaling pathway required for plants to grow to their normal size appears to have an unexpected dual purpose of keeping the plant from wallpapering itself with too many densely clustered stomata.

Keiko Torii holds a mutated version – one that’s an inch tall and covered densely with microscopic stomata – and a normal plant of Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant that is widely used as a model organism in plant biology.
Photo credit: University of Washington

"It’s surprising that size and stomata patterning – both key to plants being able to survive on dry land – are using the same signaling components," says Jessica McAbee, a University of Washington research associate in biology. She’s one co-author of a report in the July 8 issue of Science about work with Arabidopsis, a weed-like member of the crucifer family for which scientists already have a genomic map.

Stomata are microscopic pores on the surface of plants that open to allow plants to take in carbon dioxide from the air for photosynthesis. They close when there is the danger that the plant tissue may lose too much moisture.

"Specialized cells open and close the stomata, much like opening and closing a mouth," says Keiko Torii, UW assistant professor of biology. Stomata too close together can’t operate effectively.

Understanding the mechanisms that control stomata patterning offers insights into such questions as how plants evolved to protect themselves when they moved from water to land, Torii says. Even atmospheric scientists are interested in such basic plant biology, given the enormous amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide taken up by the Earth’s plants.

Scientists already believed that part of the signaling pathway for stomata production included the receptor-like protein Too Many Mouths, so called because when absent the plant makes too many stomata, or mouths.

Scientists were searching for a single stomata gene that had to be working in concert with Too Many Mouths to get an efficient distribution of stomata, Torii says. No one was considering that more than one gene could be involved, much less three, or that the genes could be serving other purposes, she says.

The UW team of four female scientists serendipitously discovered what appears to be part of the pathway that tempers the production of stomata while studying a trio of genes that code for signaling receptors required for normal plant height.

The scientists were working on a basic understanding of plant growth as part of U.S. Department of Energy and Japanese Science and Technology Agency-funded work about growing plant material, or biomass, suitable for producing fuel. By mutating all three genes – essentially putting them all out of action – the researchers got dwarf plants an inch high instead of the normal 1½ feet. Surprisingly the plants also were so densely covered with stomata that most stomata were touching each other.

These genes appear to have roles at two points in the production of stomata. First, they inhibit undifferentiated cells – those unspecialized cells that have yet to turn into specific cell types – from making too many stomata and then they repress the development of two guard cells that open and close the stomata pore.

Co-authors of the Science paper besides Torii and McAbee are lead author Elena Shpak, former research associate at the UW and starting this fall as an assistant professor at California State University, Fullerton, and Lynn Pillitteri, a UW research associate in biology.

Sandra Hines | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>