Navigation Links
How the dragon got its 'snap'
Date:11/9/2010

"How do hearts, wings or flowers get their shape?" asks Professor Enrico Coen from the John Innes Centre. " Unlike man-made things like mobile phones or cars, there is no external hand or machine guiding the formation of these biological structures; they grow into particular shapes of their own accord."

"Looking at the complex, beautiful and finely tuned shapes produced by nature, people have often wondered how they came about. We are beginning to understand the basic genetic and chemical cues that nature uses to make them."

So, how does this happen? In a recent breakthrough, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), scientists on Norwich Research Park have begun to answer this question, using the snapdragon flower as a convenient subject.

In the snapdragon flower, two upper petals and three lower petals form defined shapes, precisely coming together to form a tube with a hinge. When a bee lands on the lower petals the hinge opens up the flower, allowing access to nectar and pollen. The shape of petals is known to be affected by four genes, but precisely how these genes work in combination to produce the specialised flower shape, and how this shape evolved, was unknown. The same is true for many organ shapes, but the snapdragon flower provides a good system to study this problem, as it is genetically well characterised and growth can be followed at the cellular level.

By changing when and how the genes involved in growth are turned on and off, and tracking how these changes affect the development of shape over time, the researchers got pointers as to how genes control the overall shape. They then used computer modelling to show how the flower could generate itself automatically through the application of some basic growth rules.

A key finding was that genes control not only how quickly different regions of the petal grow, but also their orientations of growth. It is as if each cell has a chemical compass that allows it to get its bearings within the tissue, giving it the information needed to grow more in some directions than others. Genes also influence the cell's equivalent of magnetic poles; key regions of tissue that chemical compasses point to. Publishing in the journal PLoS Biology, the researchers show how these principles allow very complex biological shapes to generate themselves.

"We are now trying to get a better understanding of exactly how the chemical compasses work and determining the molecular nature of the poles that coordinate their orientations," said Professor Enrico Coen of the John Innes Centre.

The study also throws light on how different shapes may evolve. In the computational model, small changes to the genes that influence the growth rules produce a variety of different forms. The shape of the snapdragon flower, with the closely matched upper and lower petal shapes, could have arisen through similar 'genetic tinkering' during evolution. Evolutionary tinkering could also underlie the co-ordinated changes required for the development of many other biological structures, such as the matched upper and lower jaws of vertebrates.


'/>"/>

Contact: Andrew Chapple
andrew.chapple@bbsrc.ac.uk
44-016-032-51490
Norwich BioScience Institutes
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. A combined tooth-venom arsenal revealed as key to Komodo dragons hunting strategy
2. Halloween horror story -- tale of the headless dragonfly
3. Shrimp trawling may boost mercury in red snapper, study suggests
4. Structural biology scores with protein snapshot
5. Spring cold snap helps with stream ecosystem research
6. Atomic-level snapshot catches protein motor in action
7. Ancient Americans took cold snap in their stride
8. Temple University Hospital and PASNAP Negotiations Break Off: Talks to Resume Later Today
9. 100-million-year-old mistake provides snapshot of evolution
10. Snap of fruit fly embryo wins scientific photo competition
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
How the dragon got its 'snap'
(Date:3/2/2017)... YORK , March 2, 2017 Summary ... better understand Perrigo and its partnering interests and activities since ... ... Partnering Deals and Alliance since 2010 report provides an in-depth ... leading life sciences companies. On demand company reports ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... 2, 2017 Australian stem cell and regenerative ... has signed an agreement with the Monash Lung Biology ... Discovery Institute and Department of Pharmacology at Monash University, ... preclinical study to support the use of Cymerus™ mesenchymal ... Asthma is a chronic, long term lung ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... February 28, 2017 News solutions for biometrics, ... ... from 14 to 16 March, Materna will present its ... how seamless travel is a real benefit for passengers. To ... to their passenger touch point solutions to take passengers through the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... Colo. , March 23, 2017  GlobeImmune, Inc. ... agreement for the sale of 12,835,490 shares of its ... NantWorks  ecosystem of companies. In connection with the sale of ... $100,000 in cash and issue to GlobeImmune 200,000 shares, ... stock. "We are pleased to enter ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... , March 23, 2017 NetworkNewsWire Editorial ... ... putting significant strain on health care systems, in terms of ... rises, so too does the development of innovative and efficient ... effects. Among the many types of cancer treatments, a growing ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... March 23, 2017 , ... Advanced Polymer ... hire of Dr. Sigmund “Sig” Floyd as Vice President ? Global Business Development. ... development activities. , “Dr. Floyd’s career has spanned 30 years in the chemicals ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Calif. , March 22, 2017  UBM ... proud to announce their extended partnership and the ... be headlined by the 21 st Annual ... Boston, taking place May 3-4, 2017. ... Medical Technology Association (ADVAMED) President and CEO, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: