Researchers headed by the University of Tübingen create a roadmap of the genes which drive plant architecture in maize – which may provide biotechnical paths to higher yields
Plants grow throughout their entire life. This is due to a small structure at the tip of the plant’s shoots, known as the meristem. This is the control center for the maintenance of stem cells – which can be converted into any cell type – and for the creation of plant organs such as side shoots and leaves.
Although all plants have to carry out these basic tasks, the meristem is different in shape and size in differing species such as maize and thale cress.
An international team of researchers headed by Professor Marja Timmermans of the Center for Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Tübingen has discovered that the meristem has even greater tasks than scientists had realized.
It controls the architecture of the whole plant from the very tip. By mapping the genetic circuits involved in these functions in maize, the team has discovered key starting points for technological improvement of crops. Their results have been published in the journal Genome Research.
In multicellular organisms, cells have to communicate with each other in order to coordinate development. They recognize their position within the organism by creating and perceiving signal molecules; this enables them to decide which cell types are to be formed at which location.
“Plants cannot move, yet they react with remarkable flexibility to changes in their environment,” says Timmermans. Her aim was to explore the role played by the meristem at the plant’s tip.
Adaptation to environmental conditions
The meristem at the tip of the shoot considers all kinds of developmental and environmental signals. Previously, it was assumed that the meristem only decided whether new stem cells or organs were to be formed. Working with her team, Timmermans has now precisely described the molecular circuits that are active in the cells of the meristem, drawing a roadmap of those circuits and describing each one’s functions.
“Right out at the very tip, the meristem regulates the plant’s settings so that each individual grows into the optimal shape for the conditions it is located in,” she sum-marizes. “We identified mechanisms that specifically control the stem cells in maize, and have found that these also affect the overall architecture of the plant.”
These latest findings can be used for plant breeding and cultivation. “Maize yields have increased steadily over the last century. However, there was no significant increase in the number of grains produced per plant,” says Timmermans.
“Rather, maize hybrids have been bred to thrive in denser plantations. The architecture of the maize plants, the angle and shape of the leaf play a vital role in the plant’s ability to efficiently catch the light and carry out high-performance photosynthesis. “The genetic circuits identified can now be used for further optimization,” Timmermans says.
Professor Dr. Marja Timmermans
University of Tübingen
Faculty of Science
Center for Plant Molecular Biology
Phone +49 7071 29-78099
Steffen Knauer, Marie Javelle, Lin Li, Xianran Li, Xiaoli Ma, Kokulapalan Wimalanathan, Sunita Ku-mari, Robyn Johnston, Samuel Leiboff, Robert Meeley, Patrick S. Schnable, Doreen Ware, Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, Jianming Yu, Gary J. Muehlbauer, Michael J. Scanlon, and Marja C.P. Timmermans: A high-resolution gene expression atlas links dedicated meristem genes to key architectural traits. Genome Research, 29, 1962. https://dx.doi.org/10.1101/gr.250878.119
Dr. Karl Guido Rijkhoek | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Exeter researchers discover a novel chemistry to protect our crops from fungal disease
30.03.2020 | University of Exeter
Comparisons of organic and conventional agriculture need to be better, say researchers
18.03.2020 | Chalmers University of Technology
An international team with the participation of Prof. Dr. Michael Kues from the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD at Leibniz University Hannover has developed a new method for generating quantum-entangled photons in a spectral range of light that was previously inaccessible. The discovery can make the encryption of satellite-based communications much more secure in the future.
A 15-member research team from the UK, Germany and Japan has developed a new method for generating and detecting quantum-entangled photons at a wavelength of...
Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.
The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.
Researchers at the University of Zurich show that different stem cell populations are innervated in distinct ways. Innervation may therefore be crucial for proper tissue regeneration. They also demonstrate that cancer stem cells likewise establish contacts with nerves. Targeting tumour innervation could thus lead to new cancer therapies.
Stem cells can generate a variety of specific tissues and are increasingly used for clinical applications such as the replacement of bone or cartilage....
An international research team led by Kiel University develops an extremely porous material made of "white graphene" for new laser light applications
With a porosity of 99.99 %, it consists practically only of air, making it one of the lightest materials in the world: Aerobornitride is the name of the...
Researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a framework by which wireless devices with different radio technologies will be able to communicate directly with each other.
Whether networked vehicles that warn of traffic jams in real time, household appliances that can be operated remotely, "wearables" that monitor physical...
26.03.2020 | Event News
23.03.2020 | Event News
03.03.2020 | Event News
30.03.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
30.03.2020 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
30.03.2020 | Life Sciences