(ORDO NEWS) — All plants are able to navigate in a certain way in the gravitational field of the Earth, and their roots grow towards the center of our planet, and the stems – from it. Now scientists have found the genes responsible for this process in the corn genome.
Gravitropism, or geotropism , is the ability of plant organs to be arranged in a certain way in relation to the direction of gravity.
Even if, for example, you put a flower pot on its side, the plant in it will bend its stem and begin to reach up, while its roots, on the contrary, will begin to grow down.
To find out how plants “understand” where the Earth’s center is, scientists conducted experiments on corn and a model plant – ruciformes. They were able to determine that four genes are involved in turning the roots when the position of the whole plant changes.
When turning a germinating corn seed, some roots abruptly changed their position to the “correct” position, while others turned more slowly.
By tracking the dynamics of roots in thousands of sprouts and combining the data obtained with genetic information for each plant, the authors of the work found out where gravitropism genes are located in the corn genome.
Then the researchers were able to narrow down the search area and matched the position of the desired chromosome regions with the same regions in the genome of the well-studied rucifera.
Although the evolutionary lineages of maize and clover diverged over 150 million years ago, gravitropism is a common property of most rooted and stemmed plants. Therefore, scientists suggested that this part of the plant genome should be quite conservative.
As a result, it was possible to identify four genes that are “responsible” for the root gravitropism of corn and rucifera, and subsequent tests confirmed the guess.
In the future, the researchers plan to modify these genes to change the architecture of the corn root system and make it more resistant to drought.
In the long term, knowledge of which genes control the growth of plant roots in a gravitational field will be useful not only in agriculture.
To survive on other planets or in outer space, people will most likely have to adapt terrestrial plants to new conditions, and this is impossible without understanding which genes are responsible for which features of plants.
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