skip to primary navigationskip to content
 

Plants and a seaweed species independently evolved a strikingly similar way of placing new organs

last modified Jan 14, 2019 12:16 PM
Plants and a seaweed species independently evolved a strikingly similar way of placing new organs

Image: cell walls of a Sargassum muticum ‘shoot’ tip, imaged by confocal microscopy. The spiral patterning can be observed by following the position of highly-stained branch tips from youngest (1), near the center, to oldest (10) near the periphery.

Plants present a multitude of patterns to the world. One of the most obvious and striking is phyllotaxis (from Ancient Greek phýllon meaning leaf and táxis meaning arrangement), the position of organs around the stem. In new work by PhD student Marina Linardic, in the Braybrook Group, potential patterning mechanisms for phyllotaxis in a seaweed have been explored.

Published this week in Scientific Reports, Marina’s work shows that, much like plant phyllotaxis, the organ patterning system in the seaweed Sargassum muticum is self-organising, position-dependent, can re-establish after wounding, and is not based on division patterns. This similarity is striking because the brown algae, which include Sargassum, and plants share a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago and lacked organs altogether. There are some interesting possible differences: the plant hormone auxin, which patterns plant phyllotaxis, does not appear to be a strong patterning influence in Sargassum; while cell walls of emerging new organs in plants show some softening linked to growth, this is not the case in Sargassum.

Understanding the many patterning mechanisms that nature presents us with will enrich our understanding of the natural world, but also provide an important basis for crop improvements in plants and seaweeds! The full, open-access, article may be found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-13767-5

 

 

Supported by the Gatsby Foundation

RSS Feed Latest news

Noisy gene atlas to help reveal how plants ‘hedge their bets’ in race for survival

Jan 24, 2019

As parents of identical twins will tell you, they are never actually identical, even though they have the same genes. This is also true in the plant world. Now, new research by Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University (SLCU) is helping to explain why ‘twin’ plants, with identical genes, grown in identical environments continue to display unique characteristics all of their own.

How trees and turnips grow fatter – researchers unlock the secrets of radial growth

Jan 09, 2019

Plant science researchers from SLCU and the University of Helsinki have identified key regulatory networks controlling how plants grow ‘outwards’, which could help us to grow trees to be more efficient carbon sinks and increase vegetable crop yields.

SLCU helps reveal another layer in the strigolactone signalling pathway

Nov 23, 2018

An interdisciplinary collaboration between structural biologists and plant scientists has revealed another layer in the signalling pathway of strigolactone – a plant hormone that plays a key role in shoot branching and other plant development processes.

View all news