Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Annual Plants Converted Into Perennials

Date:
November 11, 2008
Source:
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Summary:
Scientists have succeeded in converting annual plants into perennials. They discovered that the deactivation of two genes in annuals led to the formation of structures that converted the plant into a perennial. This was most likely an important mechanism in plant evolution, initiating the formation of trees.

Annual arabidopsis plant flowering. Researchers have deactivated certain genes in an annual plant and, as with real perennials, these altered plants showed secondary growth with wood formation making them into shrub-like Arabidopsis plants.
Credit: iStockphoto

Annual crops grow, blossom and die within one year. Perennials overwinter and grow again the following year. The life strategy of many annuals consists of rapid growth following germination and rapid transition to flower and seed formation, thus preventing the loss of energy needed to create permanent structures.

They germinate quickly after the winter so that they come out before other plants, thus eliminating the need to compete for food and light. The trick is basically to make as many seeds as possible in as short a time as possible.

Perennials have more evolved life strategies for surviving in poor conditions. They compose perennial structures such as overwintering buds, bulbs or tubers. These structures contain groups with cells that are not yet specialised, but which can later be converted when required into new organs such as stalks and leaves.

Flowering of annuals

Annual crops consume all the non-specialised cells in developing their flowers. Thus the appearance of the flower signals means the end of the plant. But fortunately they have left seeds that sense – after winter – that the moment has come to start up. Plants are able to register the lengthening of the days. With the advent of longer days in the spring, a signal is sent from the leaves to the growth tops to activate a limited number of blooming-induction genes.

Deactivating two genes

VIB researchers, such as Siegbert Melzer in Tom Beeckman's group, have studied two such flower-inducing genes. They have deactivated them in thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a typical annual. The VIB researchers found that mutant plants can no longer induce flowering, but they can continue to grow vegetatively or come into flower much later. Melzer had found that modified crops did not use up their store of non-specialised cells, enabling perennial growth. They can therefore continue to grow for a very long time.

As with real perennials these plants show secondary growth with wood formation creating shrub-like Arabidopsis plants.

Raising the veil of evolution

Researchers have been fascinated for a long time by the evolution of herbaceous to woody structures. This research clearly shows only two genes are in fact necessary in this process. This has probably been going on throughout the evolution of plants. Furthermore it is not inconceivable this happened independently on multiple occasions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Siegbert Melzer et al. Flowering-time genes modulate meristem determinacy and growth form in Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature Genetics, (in press)

Cite This Page:

VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). "Annual Plants Converted Into Perennials." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081109193431.htm>.
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). (2008, November 11). Annual Plants Converted Into Perennials. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081109193431.htm
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). "Annual Plants Converted Into Perennials." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081109193431.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. 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:
from the past week

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