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New path to water efficient seeds opens as TIP pips PIP as water gatekeeper
Date:2/24/2011

Research by University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences has opened up a new path to produce water efficient seeds that will be a significant tool to cope with drought resistance, and ensure global food security. The research not only provides the best map to date of the key protein that appears to be the principal gateway for water intake during seed germination - it also actually provides the right map as it appears much of the research to date was focussed on a much less relevant protein.

The research team led by Dr Lorenzo Frigerio looked at two proteins that are members of the large family of "Major Intrinsic Proteins", or MIPs, which are widespread among living organisms and are known to act as water channels governing water uptake.

The first of the types of protein they looked at PIPs - are intrinsic proteins that take the P at the start of their name from being normally found in the "plasma membrane", the outer casing of a cell. Because of their normal position on this outer covering these plasma membrane (PM) intrinsic proteins (PIPs) have received much of researcher's attention as the probable prime gatekeepers of the water transport into and out of cells.

The researchers focussed much of their attention on a second group of intrinsic proteins known as "Tonoplast Intrinsic Proteins" or TIPs as they are most usually found in an inner cell layer called the tonoplast which surrounds a vacuole in a cell (vacuoles are enclosed compartments in a cell filled with water and containing inorganic and organic molecules).

Despite the fact that the TIPs appear to be able to govern water uptake the fact that they are seen as being concentrated in the tonoplast has reduced researchers interest in time as key player in water uptake. This is because the tonoplast itself is generally not considered to present a major problem for intracellular water flow, as its water permeability is thought to be much higher than that of the outer pla
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Contact: Peter Dunn
p.j.dunn@warwick.ac.uk
44-077-676-55860
University of Warwick
Source:Eurekalert  

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