New tool puts plant hormone under surveillance

Jan 16, 2012

( -- Charles Darwin was the first to speculate that plants contain hormones. His pioneering research led to the identification of the very first and key plant growth hormone — auxin — in 1937.

Seventy five years on an international team of researchers have made another break-through in our understanding of this important plant . The team from the University of Lyon, The University of Nottingham, Ghent University and the University of Leeds, have developed a sensor that allows auxin to be visualised in plant tissues for the very first time.

Their research published today, Sunday 15 January 2012, in the prestigious academic journal Nature describes how the scientists engineered the sensor in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

, like animals, have hormones that regulate how they grow and develop. Plant hormones give their shape to plants, cause tomatoes to ripen, leaves to drop and roots to grow downwards. Auxin is essential for plant body development. It has a key role in the coordination of many growth and behavioural processes in the plant’s life cycle.

Called DII-VENUS, the new sensor can monitor rapid changes in auxin and allowed researchers to visualise almost in real-time the redistribution of auxin during developmental responses. This has revealed much more complex patterns of auxin in tissues than previously thought, indicating that sensitivity to the hormone within tissues precisely control their capacity to respond.

Malcolm Bennett, Professor of Plant Sciences in the School of Biosciences and Biology Director at the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology (CPIB), said: “This sensor represents a very important advance because almost every plant developmental process is controlled by auxin, starting from embryo patterning, to regulation of leaf and root growth and even the shape of flowers. Using the sensor to determine exactly where and when auxin accumulates in plant tissues will help us to design plants with new shapes, sizes and properties.”

With funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) the auxin sensor was developed and characterised by scientists led by CNRS Researcher Dr Teva Vernoux from the Laboratoire de Reproduction et Developpement des Plantes (RDP) at the Universite de Lyon in collaboration with the CPIB at The University of Nottingham, the Department of Plant systems Biology,VIB, at Ghent University and Centre for Plant Science at the University of Leeds.

Dr. Vernoux said: “We can now visualize in living tissues.  This is a fantastic progress for the understanding of the role of hormones in plant development.”

Explore further: Scientists see a natural place for 'rewilded' plants in organic farming

More information: The full paper can be found at:

Related Stories

Biologists solve plant hormone enigma

Jul 06, 2006

Gardeners and farmers have used the plant hormone auxin for decades and now U.S. scientists have found how plants produce and distribute the hormone.

Circadian clock controls plant growth hormone

Aug 13, 2007

The plant growth hormone auxin is controlled by circadian rhythms within the plant, UC Davis researchers have found. The discovery explains how plants can time their growth to take advantage of resources such ...

Scientists unveil mechanism for 'up and down' in plants

Oct 28, 2008

VIB researchers at Ghent University, Belgium, discovered how the transport of an important plant hormone is organized in a way that the plant knows in which direction its roots and leaves have to grow. They discovered how ...

Possible new hope for crops battling parasitic infection

Jan 16, 2009

Scientists from Ghent University and VIB (The Flemisch Institute for Biotechnology) have demonstrated how nematodes, also known as roundworms, manipulate the transport of the plant hormone auxin in order to force the plant ...

Recommended for you

First step towards global attack on potato blight

19 hours ago

European researchers and companies concerned with the potato disease phytophthora will work more closely with parties in other parts of the world. The first move was made during the biennial meeting of the ...

Bacteria study could have agricultural impact

21 hours ago

Wichita State University microbiology professor Mark Schneegurt and ornithology professor Chris Rogers have discovered that one of North America's most common migratory birds – the Dark-eyed Junco – carries ...

Sex chromosomes—why the Y genes matter

May 27, 2015

Several genes have been lost from the Y chromosome in humans and other mammals, according to research published in the open access journal Genome Biology. The study shows that essential Y genes are rescue ...

Better mouse model enables colon cancer research

May 27, 2015

Every day, it seems, someone in some lab is "curing cancer." Well, it's easy to kill cancer cells in a lab, but in a human, it's a lot more complicated, which is why nearly all cancer drugs fail clinical ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.