Every time I read about agricultural research, I notice that the focus is always on the need for food. More specifically, the need to be able to grow more plants with fewer resources so that we can alleviate world hunger. A lot of the studies I have read and written about focus on cures for fungal infections and other diseases plants can contract. Many of those focus on genetic makeup and DNA manipulation that can be used to create bigger grains or yield more nutrition. Often, in our efforts to bio-engineer the plants around us, we tend to forget about one of the most important parts of the plant: the roots.
Ive De Smet, lead researcher from Germany, conducted a study on the growth of roots in the Max Planck Institute. The study focused on how the hormone auxin works to control root growth in plants. Auxin is a hormone that targets many different types of cells and stimulates a multitude of responses. This study attempted to figure out the exact mechanism of several signal-response pathways to determine how root growth can be manipulated by scientists.
Specifically, they studied auxin-mediated root branching. Branching of the higher roots can be useful for absorbing more nutrients under arid conditions. They discovered that the mechanism that auxin uses occurs as a series of small steps, each of which can potentially be targeted to exponentially increase the efficiency and strength in the plant’s root system. The researchers also found two proteins that are vital for the development of the embryo in the seed that contribute to higher root branching in the adult plants. The researchers believe that this information can be used to design plants that are able to grow quickly despite extreme, dry environments.
The fact that researchers focus so much on finding a solution to world hunger is very inspirational and gives me hope. However, I do wish that within the next year or so we begin to actually see how these studies are being used to create more efficient agricultural systems.
Discussion Question: What could be a reason for why the knowledge from such studies does not end up being implemented by the agricultural industry?
News Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127104902.htm
Scientific Abstract: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/01/22/0915001107
No comments yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.