Stomata development in plants unraveled -- a valuable discovery for environmental research

Apr 03, 2012

Gent researchers at VIB have unraveled the action mechanism of the main plant hormone that regulates the development of stomata. This breakthrough has important implications for environmental research and for the protection of plants against disease and stress. The study has been published in the prestigious science journal Nature Cell Biology.

Plants breathe through stomata

are protected from drying out by an airtight wax layer. They breathe and release water through microscopic pores called . Every year 40% of atmospheric CO2 and twice the volume of water found in our atmosphere pass through these pores. This means that stomata are not only important for plant development but also for our climate!

It's no surprise then that these pores appear to be strictly regulated by . Stomata react extremely fast to internal plant signals and changes in the environment. When rain is scarce, for example, the pores will close to prevent the plant from wasting water while an automatic drought protection mechanism is triggered into action.

Brassinosteroids, a class of plant hormones, play an important role in determining the number of leaf stomata, but the underlying mechanism was until now not well understood.

Brassinosteroids are crucial plant hormones

Controlling multiple aspects of plant growth and development, brassinosteroids are omnipresent in the plant kingdom. The hormones have a positive effect on the quality and productivity of crops and increase their resistance to stress and disease.

Scientist Jenny Russinova and her team, who are associated with both VIB and Ghent University, study the action mechanisms of brassinosteroids. A recent breakthrough led them to conclude that the latter also affect the number of stomata. Plants without the hormone develop many fewer stomata. The opposite is also true: more brassinosteroids dramatically increase the number of pores.

Scientific breakthrough: action mechanism deciphered!

The VIB scientists are the first to unravel the action mechanism. They were able to determine how the various agents work together to form new stomata. Their experiments showed that brassinosteroids exert direct action on speechless, the transcription factor that initiates the development of stomata. Their action allows for a multitude of different interactions. This exemplifies the strictly orchestrated regulation of stomata development, which is able to react very quickly to environmental changes or internal plant signals The study has been published in the prestigious science journal .

Explore further: Japanese scientist resigns over stem cell scandal

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Steroids control gas exchange in plants

Feb 05, 2012

Plants leaves are sealed with a gas-tight wax layer to prevent water loss. Plants breathe through microscopic pores called stomata (Greek for mouths) on the surfaces of leaves. Over 40% of the carbon dioxide, CO2, in the ...

Adjustable valves gave ancient plants the edge

Jun 09, 2011

Controlling water loss is an important ability for modern land plants as it helps them thrive in changing environments. New research from the University of Bristol, published today in the journal Current Biology, shows ...

A new transporter gene that regulates plant transpiration

Sep 09, 2011

When plants feel stress from a lack of water, they close their epidermal pores, or stomata, to prevent water loss via transpiration. Each stoma is flanked by a pair of guard cells, which change shape to close or open stomata ...

Gene helps plants use less water without biomass loss

Jan 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Purdue University researchers have found a genetic mutation that allows a plant to better endure drought without losing biomass, a discovery that could reduce the amount of water required for growing plants ...

Recommended for you

Japanese scientist resigns over stem cell scandal

2 hours ago

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on ...

'Hairclip' protein mechanism explained

16 hours ago

Research led by the Teichmann group on the Wellcome Genome Campus has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function. Published in the journal Science, the discovery has wide-ranging implications for bi ...

Discovery in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

18 hours ago

For four years, researchers at Universite catholique de Louvain have been trying to find out how bacteria can withstand antibiotics, so as to be able to attack them more effectively. These researchers now understand how one ...

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.