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Plant genes identified that can form basis for crops better adapted to environmental conditions

formation

First of all, the researchers developed a special method − the Lateral Root-Inducible System (LRIS) − with which they are able to have capillary roots grow in a controlled manner. They studied all the genes that are connected with the formation of capillary roots and compared them with the complete genome of a plant that is unable to form capillary roots. By analyzing these large data sets in detail, the Ghent team discovered which genes are crucial for the formation of new capillary roots. For this part of the project, they used micro-array technology, with which thousands of samples can be studied simultaneously.

The development of capillary roots is important for sustainable agriculture

Capillary root formation is controlled by both internal and external signals. This ensures that the root system adapts itself to changes in the soil − a very heterogeneous and changeable environment. From the agricultural point of view, the branching of the root is essential because roots are responsible for helping plants adapt to adverse environmental conditions. A better understanding of capillary root formation will enable the cultivation of crops that absorb water and minerals more efficiently. An important step toward a more environment-friendly, sustainable agriculture in a world whose population is growing while the land available for agriculture is diminishing.

Tom Beeckman is in charge of the root development group in the VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology, which is under the direction of Dirk Inz (for more info, see:www.vib.be/Research/EN/Research+Departments/Department+of+Plant+Systems+Biology/Tom+Beeckman)


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Source:VIB, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology


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