Similar to a worm searching for food, hidden underground networks of plant roots snake through the earth, foraging for nutrients and water. Yet the genetic and molecular mechanisms that govern which parts of the soil roots explore remain largely unknown. Associate Professor Wolfgang Busch, first author Takehiko Ogura and colleagues have discovered a gene that determines whether roots grow deep or shallow in the soil. In addition, the findings will also allow researchers to develop plants that can help combat climate change as part of Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative, which aims to grow plants with roots that can store increased amounts of carbon underground for longer periods, reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.
Plant enzyme could guide development of medicines and other products
Plants can manufacture a stunning array of compounds that help them repel pests, attract pollinators and cure infections. Professor Joseph Noel, first author Jason Burke and collaborators uncovered how an enzyme called chalcone isomerase evolved to enable plants to make products vital to their own survival. The knowledge may inform the manufacture of products that are beneficial to humans, including medications and improved crops.Read News Release
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