Plants that grow more slowly stay fresh longer. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tuebingen have shown that certain small sections of genes, so-called microRNAs, coordinate growth and aging processes in plants.
Thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana
Photo: Juergen Berger/ Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
These microRNAs inhibit certain regulators, known as TCP transcription factors. These transcription factors in turn influence the production of jasmonic acid, a plant hormone. The higher the number of microRNAs present, the lower the number of transcription factors that are active, and the smaller the amount of jasmonic acid, which is produced by the plant. The plant therefore ages more slowly, as this hormone is important for the plant's aging processes. Since the quantity of microRNAs in the plants can be controlled by genetic methods, it may be possible in future to cultivate plants that live longer and grow faster. (PLoS Biology, September 22, 2008)
MicroRNAs are short, single-strand sections of genes that regulate other genes. They do this by binding to complementary sections of the genetic material, thus preventing them from being read and implemented in genetic products. In plants, microRNAs mainly inhibit other regulators, so-called transcription factors. These factors can switch genes on or off by binding to DNA sections, thus activating or blocking them so that either too many or too few proteins are formed. Since proteins control metabolic processes, an imbalance leads to more or less clearly visible changes to the plant.
The scientists in Detlef Weigel's department at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology have investigated the effects that the transcription factors of the TCP family have on the growth and aging of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. These transcription factors are regulated by the microRNA miR319.
It was already known that miR319-regulated transcription factors affect the growth of leaves. Using a combination of biochemical and genetic analyses, the researchers have now discovered that the transcription factors also regulate those genes that are essential for the formation of the plant hormone jasmonic acid. The higher the quantity of the microRNA miR319 present in the plant, the lower the number of transcription factors that are produced, and hence the smaller the amount of jasmonic acid, which can be synthesized. These plants have longer growth periods and age more slowly than plants that contain less miR319 and therefore have a shorter growth period but die off sooner.
"Our studies show that the transcription factors, which are regulated by the microRNA miR319, exert a negative influence on the growth of plants, and also lead to premature aging," says Detlef Weigel. The mechanism discovered here is a further milestone in the attempt to explain the relationships of genetic regulation in plants. "Only when we have a better understanding of these processes will we be able to produce plants that have particularly desired properties," says biologist Weigel.
Contact:Prof. Dr. Detlef Weigel
Dr. Susanne Diederich | Max-Planck-Institut
Cell Division at High Speed
19.06.2019 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Monitoring biodiversity with sound: how machines can enrich our knowledge
18.06.2019 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.
Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...
The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified
The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.
The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
19.06.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.06.2019 | Information Technology
19.06.2019 | Materials Sciences