Plants use roots to anchor themselves, and to absorb nutrients. Root hairs are single cells that grow from the roots and greatly increase the root’s surface area. The researchers identified a pair of genes that are required for root hairs to grow. When these genes were turned off, plants produced hairless roots.
Not all plants have roots. Evolutionarily ancient plants like mosses instead grow cells called caulonema and rhizoids. Caulonemal cells increase the surface area for nutrient absorption, and rhizoids provide anchorage. The scientists found that the genes that control root hair growth are very similar to the genes that regulate the development of caulonema and rhizoids in the moss Physcomitrella patens. In fact, they were able to replace the genes they turned off in plants with the equivalent genes from moss, and produce hairy roots. However, caulonema and rhizoids are not the same as root hairs; the major difference being that root hairs are diploid, having two copies of each chromosome, whilst the moss cells have one (haploid).
The number of chromosomes represents one of the major differences between mosses and other land plants. Moss exists with one chromosome for the majority of its lifecycle; only during its reproductive stage does it have two copies of its chromosomes. The plants that evolved from these organisms have pairs of chromosomes for the majority of their life cycle. With this change in the dominant part of the life cycle came an enormous increase in the size and diversity of plants known as the Devonian explosion, which started around 400 million years ago. The great variety of plant life that we see today evolved during this period of time. The invasion of the land by these plants fundamentally changed the existing ecosystems, and brought about pronounced climate change.
This study, involving collaboration with the University of Lausanne, provides some information on the genetic basis of this Devonian explosion. It shows that genes from one stage in the life cycle were recruited by their descendants into another part of the life cycle. The development of root hairs helped the evolution of larger plants by increasing their nutrient uptake ability and anchorage. “These results give us a model for the genetic changes that underpinned the dramatic changes in plant stature that occurred during Devonian explosion 400 million years ago. We are now getting an insight in to the genetic fuse to that bang which had such dramatic climatic consequences” said Professor Dolan.
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
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24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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