Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologists Find Stem Cell-like Functions In Other Types Of Plant Cells

Date:
January 30, 2009
Source:
New York University
Summary:
Ordinary cells have the ability to replace lost organs in plants -- a function previously thought to be limited to stem cells -- researchers have found.

Arabidopsis thaliana: Left, Vegetative stage, before flowering and growth of the floral stalk. Center: An adult plant at full flowering/seed set. Right: Flower, floral stem and seeds. White bars=1 cm, except for single flower/seeds=1 mm.
Credit: Copyright INRA 2003/Courtesy of New York University

Ordinary cells have the ability to replace lost organs in plants—a function previously thought to be limited to stem cells—researchers at New York University's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and Utrecht University in the Netherlands have found. The findings, which suggest that some roles of stem cells in organ regeneration may be shared by other types of cells, are published in the journal Nature.

Stem cells have two known fundamental properties: they can renew themselves and they can give rise to specialized cells. These traits make them the engines for regeneration, creating new cells to replace lost organs and tissue. These phenomena are especially evident in plants, which continually re-grow their branches and roots. The center of stem cell activity is a stem cell niche, where stem cells are directed to perform these renewal and regeneration functions.

However, it's unclear how significant the stem cell niche is to organogenesis—the building and rebuilding of organs.

The scientists studied the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The species is a good candidate for study because researchers have previously identified all of the genes expressed in its individual cells, which allows tracking of cells' identity as they regenerate.

In the study, the researchers cut off the plant's root tip, thereby excising the stem cell niche, and examined the return of cell identities by measuring all gene activity. The results suggested that stem cells returned quite late in regeneration after other cells were already replaced. The researchers then used mutant plants in which the stem cell niche no longer functions to confirm their initial observations. Despite the absence of the stem cell niche, the plant's ordinary cells worked to regenerate all the major tissues constituting the root tip—a process that began hours after it had been removed.

However, researchers found that plants without functional stem cell niches could not resume normal growth, showing that other cells did not replace all functions of stem cells.

Scientists have recently shown that manipulating non-stem cells in mammals to express several genes could convert those cells into stem cells—a process known as reprogramming. In 2008, a Nature study conducted at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute recreated pancreatic cells in mice into another type of cell that produces insulin without the aid of stem cells. In the NYU-Utrecht study, the researchers sought to determine if entire organs regenerate in plants absent of stem cells without using genetic manipulation.

"You could think of these findings as a massive reprogramming of an organ's identity without the need for a stem cell niche," said Kenneth Birnbaum, an assistant professor of biology at NYU whose lab conducted the research. "Here is a case of an organism that can perform this kind of reprogramming naturally. This may be one reason why plants are so adept at regenerating their body parts."

The work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

New York University. "Biologists Find Stem Cell-like Functions In Other Types Of Plant Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090128132645.htm>.
New York University. (2009, January 30). Biologists Find Stem Cell-like Functions In Other Types Of Plant Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090128132645.htm
New York University. "Biologists Find Stem Cell-like Functions In Other Types Of Plant Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090128132645.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. 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