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Origin of root offshoots revealed
Date:10/23/2008

scientists have discovered a fundamental mechanism − fundamental for the plant, and very important for plant-breeders as well. This new knowledge enables us to promote, or retard, the formation of offshoots − both activities are useful in a large number of applications.

Promoting an extensive root system helps plants absorb nutrients more readily, and thus they need less fertilizer. Such plants can also grow more easily in dry or infertile soils. Furthermore, plants with a well-developed root system are more firmly anchored in the soil and can be used to counteract erosion.

On the other hand, slowing down secondary root formation can be advantageous in tuberous plants, like potatoes or sugar beets. This enables these food crops to invest all their energy in the production of nutrients. Fewer root offshoots also makes it easier for farmers to harvest these crops.

Plant research with medical possibilities?

This plant research sheds light on the control of asymmetric cell division − and this kind of cell division is similar to the cell division of stem cells in animals, too. So, these results can also provide greater insight into how animal stem cells specialize.

For example, irregular cell division plays a role in the development of various types of cancer, and similar control mechanisms might underlie this process as well. This is clearly an important area for future research.


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Contact: Sooike Stoops
sooike.stoops@vib.be
329-244-6611
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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