Although they used tobacco in their research, Gallie predicts vitamin C could generate twins and triplets in other plants as well.
"Because the early stages of embryo development are so conserved among plant species, we expect that vitamin C will have a similar effect in almost any plant," he said.
A question raised by the study is whether vitamin C might have a similar effect in humans. In contrast to most animals, humans cannot make vitamin C and it must, therefore, be obtained regularly from dietary sources.
"Although the development of plant and animal embryos differ in many respects, the manner in which the genetically identical twins were produced in our study is similar to that for identical human twins in that it is the very first division of the fertilized egg into two separate cells that produces the two separate embryos, resulting in two seedlings in plants or two fetuses in humans," Gallie said. "Despite the differences in the subsequent development of embryos in plants and humans, the critical effect of vitamin C is on this very first cell division."
To Gallie's knowledge, no study linking vitamin C to twins in humans has been carried out to date.
"Humans are mutants in that we lack the last enzyme in the pathway needed to produce vitamin C," he said.
Vitamin C is well known to prevent scurvy, a disease affecting collagen synthesis, iron utilization, and immune cell development. It also improves cardiovascular and immune cell function and is used to regenerate vitamin E. The vitamin is present at high levels in some fruits such as citrus and some green leafy vegetables, but present in low levels in those crops most important to humans such as grains.
Vitamin C is as essential for plant health as it is for humans. It serves as an important antioxidant, destroy
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside