Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Newly Recognized Gene Mutation May Reduce Seeds, Resurrect Plants

Date:
November 4, 2005
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
A mutated plant that seems to return from the dead may hold the secret to how some flora protect their progeny during yield-limiting drought and other stresses, according to Purdue University scientists whose study of the plant led to discovery of a gene.

A mutant Arabidopsis that seemed to rise from the dead helped Purdue plant physiologist Matthew Jenks and his research team find a genetic connection between lipid synthesis and embryo development in plants. The abnormal plant helped them discover a new gene they dubbed Resurrection that apparently plays a part in lipid signaling of seed abortion. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell)

A mutated plant that seems to return from the dead may hold the secret to how some flora protect their progeny during yield-limiting drought and other stresses, according to Purdue University scientists whose study of the plant led to discovery of a gene.

Related Articles


The gene, called RESURRECTION1 (RST1), has revealed a previously unknown genetic connection between lipid development and embryo development in plants, said Matthew Jenks, lead author of the study and a Purdue plant physiologist.

Lipids play a role in preventing plant dehydration in forming cells' membranes, in molecular signaling and in energy storage. A still-to-be revealed lipid associated with formation of the cuticle that coats plant surfaces may signal whether a seed develops to maturity or is aborted early due to a defective embryo.

"This is interesting because in crop production a number of plants have a problem of reduced yield due to seed or fruit abortion," Jenks said. "It's thought that plants may abort some of their seeds, especially under stress, to conserve and divert resources to the remaining seeds. So, in a drought situation, for example, plants will get rid of some seeds so that they can support growth of at least a few healthy seeds."

In the November issue of Plant Physiology, Jenks and his team of researchers from the Purdue Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture report on the normal gene RST1.

They found the gene while studying a unique surface wax mutant of Arabidopsis, a common laboratory research plant. All plants have a certain amount of wax overlaying leaves and stems.

The abnormal plant, a mutant of RST1, had short, rounded leaves that turned purple during development, and then before flowering, the plant quickly browned and looked dead. It also had a large proportion of small, wrinkled, non-viable seeds with aborted embryos. These contained only 34 percent of the normal amount of lipids.

"It appeared to have died, and I left it in a room for two or three weeks. I was just slow in throwing it away," said Jenks, who also is a member of the Purdue Center for Plant Environmental Stress Physiology. "When I went to throw it away, I noticed it had small shoots coming up as if it had returned to life."

The surprising finding in studying the mutant was that a single gene could affect so many diverse traits, Jenks said. Another somewhat similar mutant Arabidopsis showed alterations only in wax and seed development, but not in the other mutated RST1 traits. This was a major clue that changes in lipid synthesis were somehow altering seed development.

Scientists already know that lipids play an important role in signaling developmental changes in plants and animals, and that other plants and animals, including humans, have genes similar to RST1. Jenks and his team now want to determine the exact role of RST1 in lipid signaling that affects plant development, particularly its role in crop seed self-thinning mechanisms through embryo abortion.

Unlike some other mutants that abort all of its seeds, the mutant RST1 plant aborts only about 70 percent of the seeds, he said.

"RST1 is not required for seed development, but it does influence how seeds develop, perhaps playing a role in regulating the number of seeds a plant will support to maturity," Jenks said. "Seed abortion by plants likely is a tightly regulated process that necessitates allowing some seed loss to conserve resources in a stressful environment without aborting all seeds, which would leave the plant with no healthy offspring."

If researchers learn how to control plant embryo abortion, they may be able to increase yield by helping plants shed fewer seeds, grains or fruits, especially under drought conditions and in other stressful environments.

U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative and the SALK Institute Genomic Analysis Laboratory provided support for this work.

The other researchers involved in the study were Ray Bressan, Purdue Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture professor; Xinbo Chen, Xionglun Liu and Xinlu Chen, all horticulture postdoctoral students; and S. Mark Goodwin, a horticulture doctoral student.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Newly Recognized Gene Mutation May Reduce Seeds, Resurrect Plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051104073126.htm>.
Purdue University. (2005, November 4). Newly Recognized Gene Mutation May Reduce Seeds, Resurrect Plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051104073126.htm
Purdue University. "Newly Recognized Gene Mutation May Reduce Seeds, Resurrect Plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051104073126.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins