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Team discovers new plant gene reprogramming mechanism

plant cells
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers Albert Cair and Karel Riha of the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) and their colleagues can see a previously unknown mechanism that’s in charge of reprogramming gene expression in plants through the transition period when one cell differentiates into a different one. The mechanism occurs by the end of meiosis, a specialized cell division needed for sexual reproduction, and enables the differentiation of germ cells and pollen. This mechanism involves the dynamic localization of key regulatory components into intracellular condensates that resemble liquid droplets. This technique is closely associated with seed production and may open new possibilities for developing more sustainable crops adapted to harsher environmental conditions.

The cells aren’t static entities, but rather transform in one type into another. Activation of a specific group of genes dictates how cells focus on performing specific tasks and determines if they divide or if they differentiate. Cellular biologists combine various advanced scientific solutions to study those highly complex processes in the plants micro-world. Cellular biology happens to be experiencing a genuine revolution, and the classic view of cell organization has been expanded to new horizons.

“Now we realize that the cell not merely contains traditional delineated by way of a membrane, but many molecular processes are confined inside less-defined membrane-less organelles, also known as biomolecular condensates (biocondensates). Over the last ten years, the significance of the biocondensates has started being recognized. We have now donate to this field by showing what sort of specific kind of biocondensate forms by the end of meiosis and inhibits protein synthesis,” explains Albert Cair, the initial writer of this research.

“This, on the main one hand, terminates the meiotic processes, but alternatively, it marks the start of a genetically different generation of cells,” adds Cair. But this is simply not all. The study team believes that analogous mechanisms also act in other organisms and cellular settings, including cell differentiation or stress responses.

The discovery by corresponding author and research group leader Karel Riha’s lab members may have a massive societal impact. “We reside in circumstances of climate emergency. Despite the fact that plants can fight a huge selection of stresses, including high temperatures and drought, their development and reproduction could be severely impaired. Which means that we are vulnerable to a dramatic decrease in crop yield, just once the yield needs to be risen to satisfy human needs. So in retrospect plant research should now be among the priorities,” explains Riha.

The labs primary mission would be to reveal fundamental biological processes closely associated with plant reproduction and seed formation, which in lots of crops results in yield.

“The study findings show that biomolecular condensates play a significant role in , and their behavior is probable associated with environmental stress. Hence, it is obvious our discovery may be the first rung on the ladder into developing new solutions leading to sustained crop production under harsher conditions,” explains Albert Cair. “The technical approaches the team had to execute are genuinely admirable, and the publication of the research in Science is reassuring that Riha’s lab is certainly going in the proper direction.”

The road to the discovery

Studying meiosis in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana is specially challenging. The study team centered on extraordinary and rare cells hidden in 0.1-0.4 mm small floral buds. Moreover, the meiotic division stages which are the study’s focus occur fastthe whole process takes five to six hours. Therefore, they’re not easy to fully capture. The study team must use state-of-the-art technologies and a substantial part of creativity and imagination to research this technique.

Rihas team had to determine conditions for live imaging of meiotic division in the anther (the area of the stamen which has pollen). The team used advanced microscopy and became among the two labs on the planet that were in a position to observe plant meiosis live. Another little bit of essential expertise the team acquired was the mastery of protoplast technology. Protoplasts are isolated plant cells which have been deprived of these surrounding cell wall, making them an easy task to genetically manipulate and visualize beneath the microscope. This technology allowed the team to elucidate some problems quicker and efficiently than using meiotic cells.

Anna Vargova contributed significantly to understanding the newly described complex mechanism. Pavlina Mikulkova provided expertise and lent her magic hand during live cell imaging of utilizing the Lightsheet microscope. The study team was supported by the CEITEC core facility CELLIM and by the Plant Sciences Core Facility. The study took a lot more than eight years and was financed by the Czech Ministry of Education Youth and Sports grant project REMAP.

“It might be extremely difficult to build up this type of complex project minus the long-term funding we’d. Actually, at one point, it felt like our limit was just our imagination, and I really believe that was crucial for the far-reaching discovery,” says Albert Cair.

Interestingly, this project didn’t involve any external collaboration, that is unusual for international research institutes such as for example CEITEC. In this instance, the study team was entering a completely new direction and the study was concluded exclusively by the members of Karel Riha’s research group.



More info: Albert Cairo et al, Meiotic exit in Arabidopsis is driven by P-body-mediated inhibition of translation, Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abo0904. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abo0904

Provided byMasaryk University

Citation: Team discovers new plant gene reprogramming mechanism (2022, August 4) retrieved 4 August 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-team-gene-reprogramming-mechanism.html

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