Researchers disprove the assumption that parents conflict with one another during a plant’s embryonic development
The Arabidopsis thaliana is a tiny, inconspicuous and herbaceous offshoot of the family of cruciferous plant that one might easily overlook in a meadow, yet the plant has the potential to disrupt a common school of thought:
Caption: Arabidopsis thaliana. Photo: Thomas Kunz
Together with his working group and colleagues from the University of Nagoya, Japan, the Freiburg biologist Prof. Dr. Thomas Laux show how plants start embryo development and thereby follow a fundamentally different reproduction strategy than animals.
The team used the Arabidopsis thaliana as a model organism and showed how plants begin with gene transcription, that is genome reading, just hours after fertilization. That includes the genes that regulate the first steps in embryonic development. The researchers describe the newly found mechanism in the scientific journal „Genes and Development“.
From a biological standpoint, life begins after fertilization: The organism has a gene expression program that regulates embryonic development from a single zygote -- that is, from the fusion of an egg cell and a sperm. In mammals, this new start occurs almost without any transcription in the zygote and rather uses gene transcripts and proteins that have been stored by the mother in the egg cell.
Plants, however, have chosen a different strategy to ensure the transcription of the correct genes in the zygote: an intracellular signal pathway, activated by the sperm, adds phosphate residues to the transcription factor WRKY2 and ensures communication between the cell membrane and nucleus.
As a consequence, this protein is enabled to activate the transcription of a master regulator, named WOX8, which controls the first steps of embryogenesis. In the case of the Arabidopsis thaliana, it includes, for instance, the formation of the shoot-root axis and the cell divisions that give rise to plant growth.
Nonetheless, WRKY2 alone cannot completely regulate the WOX8 transcription. It requires the help of additional transcription factors stemming from the maternal genes called HDG11 and HDG12. Only the combination of the sperm-activated WRKY2 and the maternally provided HDG proteins guarantees that the embryo regulation begins in the zygote. One obvious advantage of this collaboration is that the embryogenesis program is only activated when the egg cell and sperm fuse.
The study stands in contrast to the long-standing so-called „parental conflict theory“ that has been proposed for plants and mammals: This theory holds that for embryonic nourishment the two parents act antagonistically. Whereas paternal gene copies favor nutrient supply to only their own offspring, the maternal gene copies tend to favor the distribution of resources among all offspring. The findings of the research group suggest that one must assume a new model for the initiation of embryonic development of plants that relies on both parents’ cooperation.
Ueda, M., Aichinger, E., Gong, W., Groot, E., Verstraeten, I., Dai Vu, L., De Smet, I., Higashiyama, T., Umeda, M. and Laux, T. (2017). Transcriptional integration of paternal and maternal factors in the Arabidopsis zygote. Genes and Development 31, S. 617-662.
Thomas Laux’s research at the University of Freiburg
Prof. Dr. Thomas Laux
Institute of Biology III
University of Freiburg
Rudolf-Werner Dreier | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences