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Current Affairs

How wounded plants heal and survive

Date: 08 March 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

An international team of researchers who set out to answer how plants heal and repair injuries, have now found some interesting mechanisms.

 

Background

Plants face many problems like pathogens and herbivores to unfavourable weather. They are constantly injured or wounded and their sessile lifestyle only adds to the trouble.

 

Details

  • A paper recently published shows that a protein named PLETHORA (PLT), which encodes stem cell promoting factors, helps in the regeneration of the vascular system at the site of injury.

  • This protein binds to and activates the expression of another gene (CUC2). These two together increase the production of a plant growth hormone called auxin at the wound site. The combination of these proteins and hormones gives the plant the ability to repair wounds.

  • Though it was known that plants communicate within their different parts and with other plants during injury, not much was known about how they handle the injury.

  • It was seen that the injury healed not just at the surface but the veins regenerated too. There was proliferation of the epithelial cells to seal the wounds and also functional restoration of tissue cells.

  • The vein regeneration is very essential as transport of food, hormone, water, happens through it and any disruption may further hinder the plant growth.

  • Another interesting find was that these two proteins did not play any role in the general development of vascular system but stepped into action only during its injury.

  • Researchers were able to set up a mathematical model that gave us guidance that as the size of the wound changes the nature of the repair changes.

  • They are now trying to find out all the different genes and pathways involved in the healing process and also the cellular reprogramming events.

  • The researchers hope that in the future these genes can be produced in surplus to create plants that can withstand insect attack and other injuries.