Navigation Links
UBC researchers discover key mechanism that regulates shape and growth of plants
Date:8/16/2011

UBC researchers have discovered a key mechanism that -- much like a construction site foreperson -- controls the direction of plant growth as well as the physical properties of the biopolymers that plants produce.

The finding is a major clue in a 50-year-long quest to explain how plants coordinate the behaviour of millions of cells as they grow upward to compete for light, penetrate soil to obtain nutrients and water, and even open petals to flower.

"We've known for decades that structures in plants called microtubules act as scaffolding to define the direction of cell expansion," says Professor Geoffrey Wasteneys, a UBC botanist and Canada Research Chair in Plant Cell Biology.

"These are tiny multipurpose cylinders that grow, shrink and self-organize to transport cargo, capture and position large structures such as chromosomes, and establish the shape of cells. But we haven't been able to determine how these tiny microtubules are organized into scaffolds in the first place."

An interdisciplinary team of plant cell biologists and mathematicians led by Wasteneys discovered that the inherent geometry of the cell itself plays an important role in the self-organization of microtubules into parallel arrays that guide cell growth and division. They also identified that a protein called CLASP plays a key role as a foreperson, modulating the geometric constraints of the cell.

Their findings will be published in the August 16 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

The research team used a specialized microscope that collects 3D images of plant components genetically engineered to fluoresce when irradiated with specially filtered light. They observed a striking difference in the way microtubules were arranged in normal plants compared to those of a dwarf mutant that fails to produce CLASP.

"Paradoxically, the microtubules appeared to be better organized in the severely stunted mutant plants than they were in the non-mutant plants," says Chris Ambrose, the post-doctoral fellow in Wasteneys' lab whose observations led to the discovery. "By examining how microtubules behave at the sharp edges between adjacent cell faces, we noticed that in the mutant, microtubules would grow into the edges and then undergo catastrophic disassembly. In the non-mutant plants containing the CLASP protein, microtubules would easily bend through 90 degrees and continue growing on the adjacent cell face upon encountering an edge."

Ambrose and Wasteneys then joined forces with UBC mathematicians Eric Cytrynbaum and Jun Allard to run three-dimensional computer simulations to test the ideas that emerged from imaging the living plant cells.

The researchers found that the simulations, which typically take about a day to run on a super computer, closely recapitulated the microtubule patterns observed in living cells.

"Simulation after simulation showed us that microtubules would form parallel arrays in the same patterns seen in living cells," says Allard, now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis. "We confirmed that the self-organization depends on the extrinsic cues from the cellular geometry, and that the presence of the CLASP protein along select edges modified the pattern dramatically."

The finding may also be relevant to the burgeoning interest in stem cell biology in the biomedical research field. "Microtubules and the CLASP protein are common to all cell types in plants animals, fungi and many unicellular organisms," says Wasteneys. "So what we find out about their behaviour in plant cells is relevant to understanding their function in cells types as diverse as neurons and disease-causing protozoans."


'/>"/>

Contact: Prof. Geoffrey Wasteneys
geoffrey.wasteneys@ubc.ca
778-994-1070
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. NC State researchers get to root of parasite genome
2. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
3. Researchers find an essential gene for forming ears of corn
4. Researchers note differences between people and animals on calorie restriction
5. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
6. Researchers discover that growing up too fast may mean dying young in honey bees
7. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
8. UI researchers find potentially toxic substance present in Chicago air
9. Researchers develop new self-training gene prediction program for fungi
10. Case Western Reserve University researchers track Chernobyl fallout
11. Childrens National researchers develop novel anti-tumor vaccine
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2017)... TEANECK, N.J. , May 16, 2017  Veratad ... leading provider of online age and identity verification solutions, ... the K(NO)W Identity Conference 2017, May 15 thru May ... Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center. ... across the globe and in today,s quickly evolving digital ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... The global military biometrics market ... by the presence of several large global players. The ... major players - 3M Cogent, NEC Corporation, M2SYS Technology, ... 61% of the global military biometric market in 2016. ... military biometrics market boast global presence, which has catapulted ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... , April 13, 2017 According to a ... Identity Authentication, Identity Analytics, Identity Administration, and Authorization), Service, Authentication Type, Deployment ... the IAM Market is expected to grow from USD 14.30 Billion in ... Rate (CAGR) of 17.3%. ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Biova, LLC., the leader in water ... Board of Directors. Dr. Henig will bring a wealth of scientific experience in the ... the Chief Technical and Scientific Officer of four major global companies in the last ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... for all six of their healthcare job boards. As the largest network ... occupational therapists, and biotechnicians, DocCafe.com and the MedJobCafe.com Health Network work to ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 21, 2017 , ... ... regional office in North Carolina, and engages Timothy Reinhardt to manage the new ... quality leadership at Pfizer Inc, with his most recent role as the Director ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... ... June 22, 2017 , ... ... designating infertility as a disease, bringing new hope for prospective parents who are ... annual meeting to back the World Health Organization’s designation in hopes of changing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: