Scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich, UK, today report a breakthrough in understanding how plant cells control the direction of their growth. The report, in the international scientific journal Nature, describes a gene (called SCN1) which controls the activity of an enzyme that is critical to cell growth. The researchers have found that SCN1 keeps cell growth in check.
“This is an exciting discovery because the direction of cell growth is very important in determining the shape of plant cells and this controls the overall shape and structure of the plant”, says Professor Liam Dolan (project leader at JIC). “We already know about some of the processes involved in cell growth but this is a new insight into how they are localised so that cells can be made to grow in a particular direction”.
The researchers made their discovery from studies on root hair formation on roots of the model plant Thale Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana). Root hairs are important to the plant as they dramatically increase the surface area of the roots, providing a large surface through which water and minerals can be absorbed.
Liam Dolan | alfa
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