Research teams from VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (Belgium),
the University of Nottingham (UK), Heidelberg University (Germany), and the
University of Copenhagen (Denmark) have identified a novel component that
controls the development of root branches supporting plants.
The teams looked at how plants deal with changing environments specifically
with temperature extremes and drought stress, and explored how (lateral)
roots evolved and developed. To investigate organ formation in plants, the
research teams used root branching as their model system and discovered a
new component through which plants control the process.
The researchers explored which genes are expressed during the early stages
of the process, leading to the identification of a cell wall modifying
enzyme - a molecule that regulates chemical reactions - that controls the
cell divisions leading to the growth of a new root. They found that
mutations in the gene that codes for this enzyme led to swelling of root
cells that give rise to a new lateral root and resulted in subsequent
defects in the first asymmetric cell divisions during the formation of root