. Energy News .

Improving crops from the roots up
by Staff Writers
Nottingham UK (SPX) Jan 27, 2012

Plant root biology is essential for healthy plant growth and, while the so-called hidden half of the plant has often been overlooked, its importance is becoming increasingly recognised by scientists.

Research involving scientists at The University of Nottingham has taken us a step closer to breeding hardier crops that can better adapt to different environmental conditions and fight off attack from parasites.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the researchers have shown that they can alter root growth in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, or thale cress, by controlling an important regulatory protein.

Dr Ive De Smet, a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) David Phillips Fellow in the University's Division of Plant and Crop Science, said: "The world's population is increasing, and a new green revolution is even more pressing to deliver global food security. To achieve this, optimising the root system of plants is essential and these recent results will contribute significantly to our goal of improving crop growth and yield under varying environmental conditions."

The work was carried out by an international team of researchers. Led by scientists from the Plant Systems Biology Department in the life sciences research institute VIB in Flanders, Belgium, and Ghent University, the study also involved experts from Wake Forest University in the US and the Albrecht-von-Haller Institute for Plant Sciences in Germany.

Plant root biology is essential for healthy plant growth and, while the so-called hidden half of the plant has often been overlooked, its importance is becoming increasingly recognised by scientists.

Despite this, particularly in view of the critical role plants play in global food security, improving plant growth by modulating the biological architecture of root systems is an area which is largely unexplored.

In this latest research, the scientists modulated levels of the protein, transcription factor WRKY23, in plants, analysed the effects on root development and used chemical profiling to demonstrate that this key factor controls the biosynthesis of important metabolites called flavonols.

Altered levels of flavonols affected the distribution of auxin, a plant hormone controlling many aspects of development, which resulted in impaired root growth.

The results of the research can now be used to produce new plant lines, such as crops which are economically valuable, which have an improved root system, making them better able to resist environmental changes which could lead to plant damage or poor yield.

In addition, WRKY23 was previously found to play a role in the way plants interact with types of nematode parasites, which could lead to further research into how to prevent attacks from the creatures during the early stages of plant growth.

The paper Transcription Factor WRKY23 Assists Auxin Distribution Patterns During Arabidopsis Root Development Through Local Control on Flavonol Biosynthesis featured in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Related Links
University of Nottingham
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Grafted watermelon plants take in more pesticides
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 27, 2012
The widely used farm practice of grafting watermelon and other melon plants onto squash or pumpkin rootstocks results in larger amounts of certain pesticides in the melon fruit, scientists are reporting in a new study. Although only low amounts of pesticides appeared in the fruit in the study, the scientists advise that commercial farmers use "caution" when grafting watermelon plants to sq ... read more

NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record

Satellite observes spatiotemporal variations in mid-upper tropospheric methane over China

NASA Sees Repeating La Nina Hitting its Peak

Map project accuses Google users of edits

Opening of UK site producing the heart of Galileo

Northrop Grumman to Supply Marine Navigation Equipment for Suez Canal Authority

Old satellite teaching new lessons

Boeing GPS IIF Satellites Assembled Using 'Pulse' Manufacturing Line

Restored wetlands rarely equal condition of original wetlands

$1.6 million fine for cutting down trees

Rate of tropical timber harvest a concern

Greeks fell trees for warmth amid economic chill

Obey optimises bioenergy yield

Findings prove Miscanthus x giganteus has great potential as an alternative energy source

Bio architecture lab technology converts seaweed to renewable fuels and chemicals

US Woody Biomass Prices Have Dropped the Past Three Years

Wind and Solar Farms Tackle the Vicissitudes of Weather

Spain cuts subsidies for clean energy

Pythagoras Solar Turns Organic Valley HQ into Energy Generating Asset

GreenVolts Partners with Independent Solar Developers to Provide Solar for Agriculture

Natural Power appointed as Owner's Engineer on 20.5MW Sixpenny Wood wind farm

China voices 'deep concern' over US wind tower probe

Power generation is blowing in the wind

Spain's Gamesa wins Chinese wind turbine contract

Gloucester, Yanzhou in giant $8bn coal play: report

Four trapped miners found dead in China: Govt

Five rescued from collapsed Chinese mine

Coal mine collapse traps 12 in China

Graphic details emerge of Tibetan unrest in China

Another Tibetan shot dead by China police: rights groups

Hong Kongers plan ad to insult mainland 'locusts'

Tibetans in restive area fiercely independent: experts


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement