Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Production of biofuels could benefit by controlling the types of cells that develop in plants

23.04.2010
Scientists have been working for more than a decade to understand how tiny molecules called microRNA regulate genes within cells. Now researchers have discovered that microRNA actually moves between cells to help them communicate with each other and ultimately determine the types of cells that grow and develop.

This discovery has broad implications in a wide range of fields, including medical gene therapy and bioengineering of crop plants. The discovery could be especially useful in the production of biofuels, where being able to control the types of cells that develop could yield more useable plant matter.

The research – conducted at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) in collaboration with Duke University and the Universities of Helsinki and Uppsala – was published online in the journal Nature on April 21.

The discovery of this molecular pathway represents the first time researchers have demonstrated that microRNA – small ribonucleic acid molecules that function to turn off genes in an organism – move between cells as a regulatory signal.

"Many organisms are made up of multiple types of cells, and we do not yet fully understand how these cells are put in the right places, although we believe cells communicate with each other ," said Ji-Young Lee, assistant scientist at BTI and a lead author of the article. "This is the first time anyone has clearly demonstrated cells are communicating through the movement of microRNA. It's likely that this kind of communication process is generally happening in many cell types in many organisms."

The researchers conducted the study in the root of Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage, where they took a closer look at the development of two types of root cells – protoxylem and metaxylem. These are key cells responsible for the transport of water and mineral nutrients in most terrestrial plants. Their goal was to determine the molecular pathway that leads to the differentiation of these two cell types.

Using a combination of molecular and cellular techniques including high-resolution imaging, they discovered a complex sequence of events at the molecular level that creates the distinction between protoxylem and metaxylem cells.

The researchers discovered that a protein molecule called SHORTROOT moves from the vascular cylinder to the endodermis, an inner skin within the root. Once there, it activates another similar protein, SCARECROW. Together, these proteins trigger the creation of the molecule microRNA 165/6. These microRNAs seem to move out of the endodermis as signaling molecules.

MicroRNA 165/6 dissolves a corresponding molecule of messenger RNA, which carries the chemical blueprint for creating proteins. High dosage of these messenger RNA molecules lead cells to become metaxylem, whereas low dosage leads to protoxylem.

Since microRNA 165/6 moves out from its source cells and dissolves their target messenger RNAs, in areas where there are high levels of microRNA 165/6, nearby cells are more likely to become protoxylem. In areas where there are lower levels of microRNA 165/6,cells turn into metaxylem.

There is reason to think that these interactions were key in the evolutionary transition from water dependent mosses to plants that grow as tall as Giant Sequoias 450 million years ago. That's because the layer of cells the researchers studied builds a waterproof tube through which plants can carry water from roots to branches, leaves and flowers.

Other lead authors of the article include Annelie Carlsbecker of Uppsala University, Yrjo Helariutta of Helsinki University and Philip N. Benfey of Duke University. BTI post doctoral associate Jose Sebastian and graduate student Jing Zhou also contributed to the paper.

You can find the full article online at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/index.html

Lorraine S. Johnson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://bti.cornell.edu
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/index.html

Further reports about: BTI RNA RNA molecule cell type crop plant messenger RNA molecular pathway

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>