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Root tissue regulators could boost crop resilience

Root scientists have begun uncovering the genetics behind complex cellular systems that could be used to improve agriculture.

Climate Change and Environment

Roots transport water and nutrients from the soil to other plant tissues, and they are a barrier against plant pathogens and toxins. Despite the importance of roots, much remains unknown about how this complex ground tissue evolves and develops. The EU-funded BRASSTEMCELLEVO (Development and evolution of tissue complexity in plants: The Brassicaceae stem cell development) project aimed to identify the genetic and developmental processes behind ground tissue formation. Project researchers focused on the Brassicaceae family of plants, including species adapted to extreme environments. They began by analysing roots of 25 species across several lineages of the family in order to link tissue features with ecological trends. Next, they compared root tissue formation in the plants Cardamine hirsuta and Eutrema halophila on a molecular level. Specifically, they compared the expression patterns and localisation of three transcription factors thought to control root tissue formation. Since E. halophila is tolerant to high saline conditions, researchers could also use it to determine if the transcription factors are regulated by environmental stressors. Researchers furthermore created transgenic Arabidopsis plants that express all three of those transcription factors, to investigate how different ground tissues are organised. This analysis enabled a deeper understanding of how ground tissue diversity evolved. Studies like this one help plant scientists evaluate the adaptive value of traits like tolerance to environmental stressors. In general, insights into the evolution and regulation of key root tissues help improve crop resilience in the face of global challenges like food security.


Root, crop resilience, plant, ground tissue, BRASSTEMCELLEVO, Brassicaceae

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