In a new study conducted at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), scientists
have identified the different genetic strategies that various flowering
plant species use to achieve the same status quo.
Stem cells are critical to the survival of flowering plants as they direct
how and when a plant will grow. However, having too many or too few stem
cells can disrupt a plant's growth. According to CSHL Professor and HHMI
Investigator Zach Lippman, a "core genetic circuitry found in all flowering
plants" is responsible for all this. In a paper published in Nature
Genetics, Lippman and CSHL Professor David Jackson describe the genetic
mechanisms that ensure "a deeply conserved stem cell circuit" maintains some
function, even if defects occur in a signaling protein called CLV3, and the
receptor with which it interacts, CLV1.
Lippman explains that those players are critical for ensuring that a plant
has the right number of stem cells throughout life. They discovered that
there are backup systems that kick in when these players are compromised
through chance mutations. The researchers determined that although stem cell
circuits are essential for flowering plants, the genetic backup systems can
vary drastically from plant to plant.