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 thats 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
"Its 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. Shes 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.
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