Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why seedlings always grow towards the light

Date:
November 14, 2013
Source:
Wageningen University and Research Centre
Summary:
Scientists have discovered how cells in the stems of seedlings use blue light to grow towards the light. During earlier research the discovery was made that the cells in the seedling stems responded to blue light used in the microscope. The scientists have now discovered how the blue light causes small structures in the cell, the microtubules, to grow perpendicular to their normal growth direction.

Cells in the stems of seedlings use blue light to grow towards the light.
Credit: paylessimages / Fotolia

Scientists from the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University and Wageningen University have discovered how cells in the stems of seedlings use blue light to grow towards the light. During earlier research the discovery was made that the cells in the seedling stems responded to blue light used in the microscope.

The scientists have now discovered how the blue light causes small structures in the cell, the microtubules, to grow perpendicular to their normal growth direction. As a result, the growth direction of seedlings also changes, making them head towards the light. The scientists discovered which protein is responsible for making the microtubules grow perpendicular to the normal direction.

The results were published in Science.

Most people know that seedlings grow towards the light. But do they do that? It is a question that many scientists have wrestled with over the years. In earlier studies, scientists were looking into the cells of seedlings. Using special microscopes with blue laser light, they visualized the structures that are important for the growth direction of plant cells. Something surprising happened: within ten minutes, the arrangement of the microtubules changed completely under the microscope.

Through smart use of image analysis techniques, the scientists were able to show that -- within a few minutes -- blue light results in generation of large numbers of new microtubules which are all perpendicular to the pre-existing microtubules. They also discovered how the cells in seedlings detect the light in these conditions, namely through phototropin, one of the proteins that allow plants to detect light.

In addition, it was determined that the generation of large numbers of microtubules that are perpendicular to pre-existing microtubules is caused by the protein katanin. Seedlings that do not contain the katanin protein cannot make their microtubules change direction and are unable to grow towards the light. Katanin is activated by phototropin and can sever microtubules in half where they intersect other microtubules. Severing results in two microtubules each of which grow in the same orientation. Microtubules that are perpendicular to the pre-existing microtubules make many intersections. Every time new microtubules intersect with other microtubules positioned in the original direction, katanin can sever the new microtubules to create new branches. Within a few minutes, this results in 'trees' of microtubules within the cells that are perpendicular to the original direction.

The growth and development of plants depends strongly on the quality and quantity of light they detect. Plants depend on light for photosynthesis but are unable to move themselves. Instead, they grow towards the light. This study shows that the reorganisation of microtubules plays an essential role in this process.

The research was supported by an NSF award, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM), funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the EU-NEST programme, a CASPIC award, the TOYOBO BIOFOUNDATION and the Human Frontier Science Programme.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. J. J. Lindeboom, M. Nakamura, A. Hibbel, K. Shundyak, R. Gutierrez, T. Ketelaar, A. M. C. Emons, B. M. Mulder, V. Kirik, D. W. Ehrhardt. A Mechanism for Reorientation of Cortical Microtubule Arrays Driven by Microtubule Severing. Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1126/science.1245533

Cite This Page:

Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Why seedlings always grow towards the light." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114132102.htm>.
Wageningen University and Research Centre. (2013, November 14). Why seedlings always grow towards the light. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114132102.htm
Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Why seedlings always grow towards the light." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114132102.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees

Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) An Allegiant Airlines plane from Las Vegas to Duluth, Minnesota turned around shortly after take-off, after a swarm of bees clouded the windshield and got sucked into the engines. (April 16) Video provided by AP
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