Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Multitasking genes manage related traits in plants

28.11.2002


Think of it as finding the ultimate genetic engineers.




A plant biologist at Michigan State University has harvested clues about genes that coordinate the development of plant parts that must work together.

The work, published in the Nov. 28 issue of the British science journal Nature, points to a single mechanism that regulates the growth of related parts in flowers – kind of a genetic project manager.


"This is why we’re not just a discombobulated collection of parts. We’re coordinated," said paper author Jeffrey Conner, an associate professor of plant biology. "I found that the same genes can affect pairs of related traits."

Scientists have understood that creatures evolve to optimize their ability to survive and reproduce, ultimately building a plant or animal better adapted to its environment.

In plants, this can be seen in the size and proportions of a flower. Flowers are serious business in the plant world, the ground zero of reproduction. The parts of a flower – the petal, stamen and pistil – must be precisely constructed to lure a pollinator in to both fertilize the plant and carry away genetic material in the pollen to other flowers.

If a flower’s tube – where the nectar is – was short in relation to its stamens, the male parts of the flower, a bee could dive in, nab nectar and leave without rubbing up against the anthers and picking up their pollen.

"A flower has to evolve to successfully manipulate the behavior of the animal that pollinates it to get what it needs," Conner said. "The key is to make contact with the anthers and stigma. If that doesn’t happen, it’s worthless, from the plant’s point of view."

Conner, who does his National Science Foundation–funded research at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station, spent years randomly crossbreeding generations of wild radish to understand how the plant coordinates its floral parts to best reproduce.

He found that consistently the plant would evolve to make sure the flower’s tube and stamen parts developed in tight correlation, and that this development was traced to a number of genes doing double duty.

This genetic mechanism creates a design stability that carries the organism successfully through evolution.

While Conner works on plants, he said this tight orchestration is seen in all organisms. Genetic coordination, for instance, is the reason human arms don’t grow out of concert with legs and send people’s knuckles dragging to the ground.

"It keeps the parts in the right proportion, so they can do a job," he said.

Understanding that a single gene affects more than one part can help reveal why plants are successful and how they maintain a structural stability over time.

It also, Conner said, opens new areas of study in all organisms about the role one gene, or group of genes, can play.


ADDITIONAL MEDIA CONTACT:
Sue Nichols, University Relations 517-355-2281

MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS
Division of University Relations
403 Olds Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1047


Jeff Conner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://newsroom.msu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees
20.11.2018 | Universität Leipzig

nachricht Scientists unveil completely human platform for testing age-specific vaccine responses
20.11.2018 | Boston Children's Hospital

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When AI and optoelectronics meet: Researchers take control of light properties

20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers use MRI to predict Alzheimer's disease

20.11.2018 | Medical Engineering

How to melt gold at room temperature

20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>