Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The roots of food security

27.01.2010
Max Planck scientists discovered how certain hormones control aspects of root branching in plants

Roots are the most underestimated parts of a plant, even though they are crucial for water and nutrient uptake and consequently growth. In a world of changing water availability and an ever-increasing human population, it will therefore be crucial to understand how root development is controlled in plants. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, now described that the plant hormone auxin together with an increased cell cycle activity leads to a boost in root branching in the common thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana. In addition, they showed that two proteins that are crucial for embryo development also play a critical role in root branching. These results could be used to raise plants that are fast-growing even in dry and nutrient-poor soils (PNAS, January 25 - 29, 2010).

About two hundred years ago, Thomas Robert Malthus predicted that sooner or later a continuously growing world population would be confronted with famine, disease, and widespread mortality. Today, the world is facing the major challenge of providing food security for an ever-growing world population, which will require an increase in food production that is exceeding the one from previous decades. To achieve this, a new green revolution is needed, which will result in high yield plants that grow in soils with very low potential.

Astoundingly, when one thinks about a plant, mainly flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds come to mind, but one rarely considers the roots - the part hidden below the soil - as vital parts. Nevertheless, the root system, which consists of a main root that makes lateral branches, is without doubt the most important part of the plant, since without roots, a plant cannot take up nutrients and water, cannot stay upright, and cannot interact with advantageous symbiotic organisms.

Building on previous observations, a group of scientists in the Department of Gerd Jürgens at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, together with scientists in Belgium, described the necessity of combining increased cell cycle activity and auxin, which is one of the major plant hormones, to give rise to an increase in root branching. Their study object was the common thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana. In addition, they showed that two proteins that are crucial for embryo development also play a critical role in root branching. Furthermore, they could for the first time demonstrate that the response to the hormone auxin takes place in discrete, successive steps.

"This knowledge is an important step towards an improved and increased root system that can support the required increase in plant yield, which will guarantee food security and which will support the role of plants as an energy source", said Ive De Smet. "Specifically, since water, nitrogen and phosphorus availability are often limiting, a root system that is able to more efficiently take up and store nutrients will allow the use of less fertilizer and will permit plants to survive in dry, less arable areas", the biologist added.

Original work:

Ive De Smet, Steffen Lau, Ute Voß, Steffen Vanneste, René Benjamins, Eike H. Rademacher, Alexandra Schlereth, Bert De Rybel, Valya Vassileva, Wim Grunewald, Mirande Naudts, Mitchell P. Levesque, Jasmin S. Ehrismann, Dirk Inzé, Christian Luschnig, Philip N. Benfey, Dolf Weijers, Marc C. E. Van Montagu, Malcolm J. Bennett, Gerd Jürgens, Tom Beeckmann
Bimodular auxin response controls organogenesis in Arabidopsis.
PNAS Early Edition, January 25 - 29, 2010, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0915001107

Contact:

Dr. Ive De Smet
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen
Tel.: +49 7071 601-1301
E-mail: ive.desmet@tuebingen.mpg.de
Dr. Susanne Diederich (Press and Public Relations)
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen
Tel.: +49 7071 601-333
E-mail: presse@tuebingen.mpg.de

Barbara Abrell | Max Planck Society
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/english/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water world
20.11.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis

nachricht Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity
20.11.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>