Findings, to be published in Oct. 7 Science, may prompt textbook changes
A team of scientists led by University of Connecticut plant biologist Roberto Gaxiola has discovered an overlooked genetic key to generating plants that are more productive, more drought resistant and can grow in soils low in nutrients. Their work is the first to successfully test in cells a 30-year-old hypothesis that explains the movement of a primary growth and development hormone through plants and is expected to prompt biology textbooks to be rewritten.
The researchers from UConn, Purdue University and Pennsylvania State University determined that one of three proton pumps found within plant cells, previously believed to have an extremely limited function, plays a critical role in plant root and shoot system growth and development by controlling cell division, expansion and hormone transport. Over-expressing the single gene that encodes this particular proton pump significantly enhances the transportation of the primary plant growth hormone, auxin, and results in plants with stronger, more extensive root systems and as much as 60 percent more foliage, the researchers report in the Oct. 7 issue of the prestigious journal Science.
Beth Krane | EurekAlert!
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