Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Blossoms Of Maturity: Newly Discovered Signaling Pathway Ensures That Plants Remember To Flower

Date:
August 25, 2009
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Plants normally flower in response to seasonal changes, such as those associated with the end of winter or beginning of spring. Scientists have now identified a signaling pathway that allows plants to blossom even without positive signals from the environment. The concentration of a small RNA snippet in plants cells operates like an hour glass: a decline in its level awakes the plant from its vegetative dormancy and allows it to enter the reproductive mode.

Electron micrograph of the common wallcress, Arabidopsis thaliana.
Credit: Image by Jόrgen Berger

Why do some plants blossom even when days are short and gray?

Related Articles


Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology have found the answer to this question: An endogenous mechanism allows them to flower in the absence of external influences such as long days. A small piece of RNA, a so-called microRNA, has a central role in this process, as a decline of its concentration in the shoot apex triggers flowering.

MicroRNAs are very short RNA snippets that have emerged in recent years as essential regulators of gene function in both plants and animals. By binding to complementary motifs in a messenger RNA, they inhibit its translation into protein. This process thus blunts the activity of the corresponding gene.

In Tόbingen, developmental biologists have discovered that the common wallcress, Arabidopsis, uses this regulatory mechanism to switch from vegetative to reproductive development. A group of related regulators, the SPL proteins, play an important role in promoting the onset of flowering. In young plants, production of SPL proteins is prevented by high levels of microRNA156.

Jia-Wei Wang and colleagues demonstrate that independent of external cues, the concentration of the microRNA declines over time, like sand running through an hourglass. When the microRNA concentration falls below a certain level, enough SPL proteins are produced to activate the flowering process even in the absence of other regulators that measure day length or external temperature. This in turns allows a sufficiently old plant to flower, even in an unfavorable environment.

Interestingly, the SPLs do double duty, since they have supporting roles when plants flower in response to long days. Furthermore, both the SPLs and other regulators eventually converge on a similar set of targets crucial for flowering.

"Flowering is crucial for the long-term survival of plants. The redundancy of environment-dependent and –independent mechanisms ensures that plants do not wait forever until flowering. Better flower once, then never," explains Detlef Weigel, director at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jia-Wei Wang, Benjamin Czech, Detlef Weigel. miR156-regulated SPL transcription factors define an endogenous flowering pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana. Cell, August 21, 2009 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.06.014

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Blossoms Of Maturity: Newly Discovered Signaling Pathway Ensures That Plants Remember To Flower." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090820123931.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2009, August 25). Blossoms Of Maturity: Newly Discovered Signaling Pathway Ensures That Plants Remember To Flower. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090820123931.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Blossoms Of Maturity: Newly Discovered Signaling Pathway Ensures That Plants Remember To Flower." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090820123931.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

RightThisMinute (Jan. 28, 2015) — From new-puppy happy tears to helpful-grocery-carrying-dog laughter, our four-legged best friends can make us feel the entire spectrum of emotions. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) — Wrongly categorized as lizard fossils, snake fossils now show the reptile could have developed earlier than we thought — 70 million years earlier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sugary Drinks May Cause Early Puberty In Girls, Study Says

Sugary Drinks May Cause Early Puberty In Girls, Study Says

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) — Harvard researchers found that girls who consumed more than 1.5 sugary drinks a day had their first period earlier than those who drank less. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Hold Emergency Meeting to Save Endangered Rhinos

Scientists Hold Emergency Meeting to Save Endangered Rhinos

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) — Conservationists and scientists hold talks in Kenya to come up with a last ditch plan to save the northern white rhinoceros from extinction. Duration: 01:06 Video provided by AFP
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