Epigenetics Intelligent Design News Plants

Plant embryo development not controlled only by genes

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early plant embryo/University of Warwick

From ScienceDaily:

he research, led by the University of Warwick and published in the journal Science, provides the first evidence that plants have evolved ways to control embryo growth and development by emitting information from surrounding cells.

Plant embryos are found within seeds and, once germinated, give rise to the adult plant. It was previously thought that embryo development was determined by the genetic make-up of the embryo alone.

The new research has however shown that specific cell-types present in the embryo environment can send out protein signals to also influence this process.

This situation mirrors a similar scenario in mammals, whereby embryo development is regulated by signals sent out by neighboring placental cells.

We’ve looked at this sort of thing earlier, in: Epigenetic: DNA distinguishes young vs. old duplicate genes, DNA doesn’t even tell teeth what they should look like, and How much does DNA influence cell shape? (Not much)

The Central Dogma isn’t looking too healthy either, by all accounts.

Here’s the abstract (paywall):

Plant embryogenesis initiates with the establishment of an apical-basal axis; however, the molecular mechanisms accompanying this early event remain unclear. Here, we show that a small cysteine-rich peptide family is required for formation of the zygotic basal cell lineage and proembryo patterning in Arabidopsis. EMBRYO SURROUNDING FACTOR 1 (ESF1) peptides accumulate before fertilization in central cell gametes and thereafter in embryo-surrounding endosperm cells. Biochemical and structural analyses revealed cleavage of ESF1 propeptides to form biologically active mature peptides. Further, these peptides act in a non–cell-autonomous manner and synergistically with the receptor-like kinase SHORT SUSPENSOR to promote suspensor elongation through the YODA mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Our findings demonstrate that the second female gamete and its sexually derived endosperm regulate early embryonic patterning in flowering plants. – L. M. Costa, E. Marshall, M. Tesfaye, K. A. T. Silverstein, M. Mori, Y. Umetsu, S. L. Otterbach, R. Papareddy, H. G. Dickinson, K. Boutiller, K. A. VandenBosch, S. Ohki, J. F. Gutierrez-Marcos. Central Cell-Derived Peptides Regulate Early Embryo Patterning in Flowering Plants. Science, 2014; 344 (6180): 168 DOI: 10.1126/science.1243005

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8 Replies to “Plant embryo development not controlled only by genes

  1. 1
    T. lise says:

    OFF TOPIC: Just finished “Darwin’s Doubt” by Stephen Meyer. It was an interesting read. Really enjoyed reading it. Two comments:

    1. In the section where Meyer handle the issue from population Genetics perspective, won’t the case be better (ie to improve the already good case) if he also add the insights from the works of John Sanford (Gene gun)?

    2. Biologos was so excited about defending Neo-Darwinism when Meyer wrote “Signature in the cell”. Given that, isn’t it quite surprising that when Meyer actually write a book on that subject Biologos is so silent about “Darwin’s Doubt”?

    P.S- A guest post by Richard Sternberg (being population Geneticist) sharing his thoughts on John sanford’s book will be cool.

  2. 2
    Dionisio says:

    The research, led by the University of Warwick and published in the journal Science, provides the first evidence that plants have evolved ways to control embryo growth and development by emitting information from surrounding cells.

    Please, help me with the interpretation of the above highlighted text. Which of the below two options (a or b) is more valid? Note the words ‘evidence’ and ‘evolved’ and their relationship within the given context.

    Does the research provide the first evidence that plants

    a) have evolved ways to control embryo growth and development by emitting information from surrounding cells?

    or

    b) have ways to control embryo growth and development by emitting information from surrounding cells?

    There’s a huge semantic difference between the two options, though syntactically they differ by only one word.

    Thank you in advance for any help with this.

  3. 3
    NeilBJ says:

    Dionisio @2
    Good observation. Obviously, anything observed by current Darwinian scientists is going to be attributed to evolution. The wonders of what evolution can accomplish will never cease.

    I’m with you. Let’s drop the word evolved.

  4. 4
    Dr JDD says:

    Dionisio,

    The correct option is (b).

    See the abstract (emphasis added):

    Here, we show that a small cysteine-rich peptide family is required for formation of the zygotic basal cell lineage and proembryo patterning in Arabidopsis.

    It is required in Arabidopsis. I do not believe the paper makes comparison to suggested precursors (ancestors) of Aribidopsis in this mechanism, nor provides evidence for mechanism of arrival of this feature from a simpler ancestor. Therefore there is nothing in the article or experiments that provide any evidence at all that this feature evolved – it will just be assumed. Anything (any feature) is assumed as evolved from an ancestor (which is nothing, or a soup) therefore it is just tagged into any bit of novel finding (as [macro]evolution is an axiom and not open to debate).

    JD

  5. 5
    Dionisio says:

    NeilBJ @ 3

    Thank you for the clarification. Have a good weekend.

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    Dr JDD @ 4

    Thank you for the detailed explanation with included example. I appreciate it.
    Have a good weekend.

  7. 7
    Eric Anderson says:

    Dionosio @2:

    Yep, another example of “evolution” usurping credit for something it probably didn’t do (and which certainly hasn’t been demonstrated to have come from evolution). This kind of language is, unfortunately, exceedingly common. In so many cases the word “evolution” can be taken out of the sentence without any loss of substance and, indeed, with some added accuracy included by the deletion.

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    Eric Anderson @ 7

    Thank you for your commentary.

    Enjoy the weekend.

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