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Light on Leaves

Editor’s choice in Plant Biology

By | October 1, 2011

Confocal image showing PIN1-GFP expression in the apical meristem cells of a tomato plant shoot. SAIKO YOSHIDA

The paper

S. Yoshida et al., “Stem cell activation by light guides plant organogenesis,” Genes Dev, 25:1439-50, 2011. Free 1000 Evaluation

The finding

For 150 years it was assumed that an unknown internal stimulus drove leaf genesis. But Saiko Yoshida and colleagues in the lab of Cris Kuhlemeier at the University of Bern have now determined that even though the location where new leaf development occurs—stem cells at the tip of a plant shoot—is shrouded by a dense covering of leaves, enough light can penetrate to activate growth hormones.

The hormones

The authors looked at two hormones—cytokinin and auxin—known to react to environmental stimuli. Cytokinin promotes cell division, while auxin is responsible for leaf formation.

The experiments

When researchers grew tomato plants in the dark, new leaf production ceased even when sugar was added to make up for the lack of photosynthesis. Instead, the auxin transporter protein gradually disappeared from cell membranes with a consequent drop in auxin levels. Applying auxin externally and allowing it to diffuse into the cells did not restore leaf formation, but cytokinin application did, suggesting that auxin does not work alone.

The application

For the first time, external stimuli were found to affect leaf initiation. This light trigger could be used to manipulate leaf arrangement to optimize light capture and potentially provide higher crop yields. In addition, it suggests researchers might want to take another look at signals that were assumed to be independent of environmental cues, says Karen Halliday, at the University of Edinburgh.

 

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Comments

Avatar of: James Kohl

James Kohl

Posts: 53

October 4, 2011

I'm no botanist. Does stem cell activation perhaps exemplify the primacy of gene activation by chemical stimuli in the cells that produce cytokinin and auxin?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 4, 2011

I'm no botanist. Does stem cell activation perhaps exemplify the primacy of gene activation by chemical stimuli in the cells that produce cytokinin and auxin?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 4, 2011

I'm no botanist. Does stem cell activation perhaps exemplify the primacy of gene activation by chemical stimuli in the cells that produce cytokinin and auxin?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 2, 2011

I'm no botanist as well but if I read this correctly, we have finally arrived at the conclusion that plants are not independent of their environment.  Brilliant!  Maybe we'll finally arrive at the conclusion that humans are not independent of their environment also.  That would be earth shattering. 

I understand there is some important science and hard work underlying this article but the way it is presented is a little, well, insulting for lack of a better word. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 2, 2011

I'm no botanist as well but if I read this correctly, we have finally arrived at the conclusion that plants are not independent of their environment.  Brilliant!  Maybe we'll finally arrive at the conclusion that humans are not independent of their environment also.  That would be earth shattering. 

I understand there is some important science and hard work underlying this article but the way it is presented is a little, well, insulting for lack of a better word. 

Avatar of: pdahlin

pdahlin

Posts: 1

November 2, 2011

I'm no botanist as well but if I read this correctly, we have finally arrived at the conclusion that plants are not independent of their environment.  Brilliant!  Maybe we'll finally arrive at the conclusion that humans are not independent of their environment also.  That would be earth shattering. 

I understand there is some important science and hard work underlying this article but the way it is presented is a little, well, insulting for lack of a better word. 

Avatar of: GordonBlows

GordonBlows

Posts: 2

November 3, 2011

This is news?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 3, 2011

This is news?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 3, 2011

This is news?

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