Researcher identifies genetic pathway responsible for much of plant growth

May 20, 2009

Researchers at Iowa State University have discovered a previously unknown pathway in plant cells that regulates plant growth.

Yanhai Yin, an assistant professor in genetics, development and , examined signaling mechanisms of a plant hormone called brassinosteroids. The hormone controls the growth of cells.

The brassinosteroids (BRs) have a major impact on how large the plant grows, says Yin.

"Previously, we knew that steroids promote growth," said Yin. "In model like Arabidopsis (a relative of mustard) and crops such as corn and rice, if you have more steroids, you have more growth, and if you have less steroids, you have less growth and the plant is smaller."

Now Yin knows that the HERK1 (named for Hercules -- the Greek and Roman god who possessed superhuman strength) pathway, induced by BRs, is controlling much of that growth.

Yin and his team's findings are in the May 5 edition of the journal of the United States of America.

There are many other internal and external factors such as light, nutrition and hydration that effect , but the HERK1, along with some unknown signals, have a great effect.

Yin and his team of Hongqing Guo, assistant scientist; Lei Li, Huaxun Ye, and Xiaofei Yu, all graduate students; and Alexandria Algreen, undergraduate student; have shown that by over-expressing HERK1, they were able to increase a plant's size by 10 to 15 percent.

By under-expressing HERK1, the plants were about 50 percent smaller.

Now Yin and his group are trying to find what regulates HERK1 and how HERK1 controls growth.

Understanding what make plants get bigger could be a critical component when producing grain and bio-mass for biofuels.

"With that knowledge, maybe we have one more tool to manipulate corn and rice if we want more grain, or if we want more mass for bio-energy crops," he said.

Source: Iowa State University (news : web)

Explore further: Honey bees sting Texas man about 1,000 times

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Plant steroids offer new paradigm for how hormones work

Jul 24, 2008

Steroids bulk up plants just as they do human athletes, but the playbook of molecular signals that tell the genes to boost growth and development in plant cells is far more complicated than in human and animal cells. A new ...

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 ...

Salt-tolerant gene found in simple plant nothing to sneeze at

Apr 07, 2008

Whether a plant withers unproductively or thrives in salty conditions may now be better understood by biologists. The cellular mechanism that controls salt tolerance has been found in the arabidopsis plant by a Texas AgriLife ...

Internal clock, external light regulate plant growth

Jul 09, 2007

Most plants and animals show changes in activity over a 24-hour cycle. Now, for the first time, researchers have shown how a plant combines signals from its internal clock with those from the environment to show a daily rhythm ...

Recommended for you

Monkeys fear big cats less, eat more, with humans around

1 hour ago

Some Monkeys in South Africa have been found to regard field scientists as human shields against predators and why not if the alternative is death by leopard? The researchers found the monkeys felt far safer ...

A tiny new species of frog from Brazil with a heroic name

18 hours ago

The Atlantic Forest is a hotspot of biodiversity and one of the most species richness biome of anurans (frogs, tree-frogs, and toads) in the world. However, current levels of diversity might be still underestimated. ...

User comments : 0