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Researchers: Plants protect stem cells via diverse backup plans

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Disrupted stem cells produce disorganized mass of petals in tomato plant/Lippman Lab/CSHL, 2019

From ScienceDaily:

The researchers determined that although the stem cell circuits are essential for flowering plants, the genetic backup systems can vary drastically from plant to plant.

If the gene producing CLV3 is disrupted by a mutation in a tomato, for instance, a related gene will stand in for it. However, Jackson’s team discovered that in the case of maize, two genes are working in parallel to produce the essential signaling protein.

“I like to compare it to a rowboat,” Lippman adds. “In tomato there are two people who can row, but only one is rowing. But if the main rower injures his arm, the second person can take up the oars. In maize, both are rowing all the time, though not necessarily with equal effort. And in Arabidopsis [rockcress] you have one main rower supported by seven, eight, or nine other rowers in the boat; and it looks like only one has a full-size oar. The rest are just using very small paddles.”

“We were surprised to see such big differences,” says Jackson, “but in retrospect it reveals the power of evolution in finding novel ways to protect critical developmental circuits.”

According to Jackson, Lippman and their colleagues, understanding these species-specific strategies for protecting key genetic interactions will be essential for achieving “intelligent crop design” and using genome editing to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability.Paper. (paywall) – Daniel Rodriguez-Leal, Cao Xu, Choon-Tak Kwon, Cara Soyars, Edgar Demesa-Arevalo, Jarrett Man, Lei Liu, Zachary H. Lemmon, Daniel S. Jones, Joyce Van Eck, David P. Jackson, Madelaine E. Bartlett, Zachary L. Nimchuk, Zachary B. Lippman. Evolution of buffering in a genetic circuit controlling plant stem cell proliferation. Nature Genetics, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41588-019-0389-8 More.

Steady on here. “Evolution” randomly evolved a number of complex and specified strategies that hit the same target? And we can achieve “intelligent crop design” by co-operating with it? Better take your Darwin pills before you talk about this with colleagues.

See also: Plants “Evolve” During The Course Of An Experiment?

Pest Insect Gets Plants To Transmit False Information To Other Plants


Researchers: Yes, plants have nervous systems too Not only that but, like mammals, they use glutamate to speed transmission

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