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How plants put down roots
Date:3/15/2010

In the beginning is the fertilized egg cell. Following numerous cell divisions, it then develops into a complex organism with different organs and tissues. The largely unexplained process whereby the cells simply "know" the organs into which they should later develop is an astonishing phenomenon. Scientists from the Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP) of the University of Tbingen and the University of Wageningen, in cooperation with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, have investigated how this process is controlled. Based on their studies of the thale cress, Arabidopsis thaliana, they have succeeded in demonstrating how the plant forms its first roots: the root founder cell in the tiny group of cells contained in the seed is activated by a combination of a plant hormone and a transcription factor. These insights could contribute to the breeding of plants with a particularly effective root system in the future. (Nature, advance online publication on March 10, 2010)

In the seed of the thale cress, the embryo forms from the fertilised egg cell that initially divides into two daughter cells. One of these two cells later goes on to form almost the entire embryo, while the other generates connective tissue that anchors the embryo in the endosperm or nutritive tissue. When the embryo has grown into a small cluster of cells, the connective tissue cell that borders the embryo is stimulated by activating signals to become part of the embryo and form the root tissue. The scientists studied these processes in detail under the supervision of Gerd Jrgens and Dolf Weijers and succeeded in identifying several of the players involved in this complex regulatory network.

The formation of the root tissue depends firstly on the accumulation of the plant hormone auxin, which is channelled to the root founder cell by the embryo. This process is reinforced by the transcription factor MONOPTEROS. However, this is no
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Contact: Gerd Jrgens
gerd.juergens@zmbp.uni-tuebingen.de
49-707-160-11309
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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