Scientists identify genetic mechanisms responsible for plant leaf diversity.

Strawberry plants with different leaf structures. Credit: Zhongchi Liu Lab/University of Maryland

Plant leaves come in many different shapes, sizes and complexities. Some leaves are large and smooth, while others are small and grainy. Some leaves grow in single pieces while others form multiple leaves. These variations in leaf structure play an important role in how plants adapt and survive in different environments.

“Plant morphology is diverse in nature,” said Zhongchi Liu, professor emerita in the University of Maryland’s Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. “Morphological differences play an important role in plant survival, including how well plants can regulate their temperature and how efficiently they can transport water from their roots to the rest of their bodies.

“Understanding the mechanisms responsible for different leaf shapes will lead to a better understanding of how plants can survive in harsh conditions.”

In a ___ Paper Published in the journal January 2024. Current biologyLiu’s lab identified two key regulatory pathways involved in the development of three types of leaves. Plants with different leaf structures led to genes expressing distinct leaf complexity (one lobe vs. multiple leaflets) or margin characteristics (smooth vs. serrated edges) of each plant, both pathways over time. Give shape.

According to the researchers, this relationship between the effects of these pathways on plant growth and the resulting timing of leaf diversity can be used to help plants adapt or tolerate optimal conditions and environments. .

“If we can tune that relationship, we can do things like make strawberries produce a larger biomass, potentially supporting more. “, explained Xi Luo, the paper’s lead author and a postdoctoral associate in the UMD Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics.

“We can take these strawberries even further than they do. and increase their adaptation by changing the shape of the leaves. For example, more serrations mean they will have more resilience to cold. And broader, smoother leaves may mean they’re better at surviving in warmer places.”

Liu’s team found that both pathways affected strawberry plants at different stages of development. For example, a pathway controlled by a gene that expresses leaf complexity may dictate that a strawberry plant develops a single leaf shape instead of its normal trifoliate (three-piece) growth pattern.

As the plant matures, Regulation by a gene expressing the marginal trait can inhibit the CUC2 gene (which is responsible for the mechanism of plant cell growth and division) and limit the depth of leaf furrow. As the strawberry plant grows, the pathways work together to activate or inhibit the CUC2 gene, resulting in plants with diverse shapes—which can increase the strawberry plant’s chances of survival.

The researchers’ findings are not limited to strawberries. Experiments with Arabidopsis (a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard) showed similar regulation of leaf margin characteristics, suggesting that this patterning mechanism may be applicable to many other plants. Is.

Figuring out how plants control their leaf shapes offers scientists and agronomists new tools to help plants cope with heat and other climate conditions and conserve water more efficiently. do And that brings scientists one step closer to preparing the world for the challenges posed by climate change.

“Such research has many implications for our efforts in conservation and agriculture,” Lowe said. “We are now better equipped to protect our natural resources and food supply from extreme conditions.”

More information:
Xi Luo et al., Leaf dissection and margin serration are independently controlled by two regulators that converge on the CUC2-auxin module in strawberry, Current biology (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2024.01.010

Reference: Scientists identify genetic mechanism responsible for plant leaf diversity (2024, February 16) Accessed February 18, 2024 at https://phys.org/news/2024-02-scientists-genetic-mechanism-responsible- Retrieved from leaf.html

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