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Researchers discover hormonal regulatory module for root elongation

Researchers discover hormonal regulatory module for root elongation
Science
In the future, agricultural crop production will have to manage with less and less nitrogen fertilisation. The goal must therefore be to increase nitrogen use efficiency so that yield levels can be kept stable. Plants respond to mild nitrogen deficiency by elongating their lateral roots. In this way, more nitrogen can be absorbed than before. Researchers at the IPK Leibniz Institute have now discovered a hormonal regulatory module that mediates the molecular processes of this adaptation. Brassinosteroids and auxins play a central role in this. The results were published in the journal Nature Communications.

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It is vital for plants to be able to adapt their root structure to changes in the soil. If there is a slight lack of nitrogen, many plants elongate their lateral roots. The hormone auxin plays an important role in root formation. When nitrogen supply is adequate, enough auxin is transported from the shoot to the roots for them to grow. "However, if there is a moderat lack of nitrogen, shoot-derived auxin is not enough for adaptation, thus local biosynthesis of auxin is strongly enhanced in the root tip," explains Prof. Dr. Nicolaus von Wirén, head of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology at the IPK Leibniz Institute.

But it is not only about auxin, brassinosteroids also have an important function in this process. They are synthesised to a greater extent in the event of mild nitrogen deficiency and are passed on as a growth-promoting signal. "This signal in turn is necessary to induce the two genes TAA1 and YUCCA8 in the roots," explains Dr. Zhongtao Jia, first author of the study. "Thereby, the formation of auxin is controlled and regulated according to the respective nitrogen demand. Ultimately, the elongation of the lateral roots is increased in this way."

The next challenge is to use these findings for further genetic improvement of crop plants -- for example by developing genetic markers or by gene editing employing the CRISPR/Cas technology. "We also expect such differences between individual lines in the barley or wheat accessions in our gene bank," says Prof. Dr. Nicolaus von Wirén. In addition, the IPK researchers want to investigate the questions of how plants can measure their internal nitrogen nutritional status and which factors might play a role in the process of root elongation even before brassinosteroids come into play.

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Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research. "Researchers discover hormonal regulatory module for root elongation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 September 2021. .

Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research. "Researchers discover hormonal regulatory module for root elongation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210914152537.htm (accessed September 14, 2021).

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Jan. 5, 2021 — Nitrogen is one the most essential nutrients for plants. Its availability in the soil plays a major role in plant growth and development, thereby affecting agricultural productivity. Scientists were ...

June 7, 2019 — As sessile organisms, plants rely on their ability to adapt the development and growth of their roots in response to changing nutrient conditions. One such response, known to be displayed by plants ...

Mar. 27, 2017 — Researchers have discovered the molecular mechanisms underlying the shoot-to-root stage of nitrogen-demand signaling in plants. The team found that genes encoding CEPD polypeptides are switched on in ...

Nov. 14, 2016 — Some plants can meet their nitrogen requirements by obtaining it from the atmosphere. To do this, they use bacteria in their roots, with which they establish a symbiotic relationship. Scientists have ...
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