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.
Contact:Dr. Ive De Smet
Barbara Abrell | Max Planck Society
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy