Researchers at Salk Institute have discovered an unexpected role for a small, often overlooked molecule called phaseic acid, which has historically been cast as an inactive byproduct in plants–a metabolic dead end of sorts. The new findings suggest that phaseic acid and its receptors probably co-evolved to become crucial for drought resistance and other survival traits and may inform the development of new, hardier crops that can weather natural disasters wrought by climate change.
Root growth rates determined by interactions between two hormones [Registered]
On a cellular level, as the tips of a plant’s roots expand downward, they must coordinate two different, but related, balancing acts. First between proliferation and strategic inactivation of the stem cells that make up the root’s tip; the strategic inactivation, called quiescence, helps maintain the stem cell niche under stress conditions. Secondly, between continued stem cell proliferation and the differentiation of these stem cells into elongated, mature cells. Researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science, namely Juthamas Chaiwanon and Zhiyong Wang, report the mechanisms that control the balance between these aspects–stem cell proliferation, strategic inactivation, and differentiation into mature cells–which together determine the rate of root growth.
Master switch for plant growth identified [Registered]
Brassinosteroids, a class of plant steroid hormones, play an important role in promoting plant growth as well as a host of development processes including cell elongation and division, development of the xylem, which is used for water and nutrient transport, and adaptation to differing light conditions. However, as brassinosteroids are very expensive to produce, they cannot be used directly for agriculture and plant biomass production.