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Plant researchers at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) are providing new insights into basic cell division in plants. The scientists have succeeded in understanding how pivotal processes are coordinated in properly separating daughter cells during cell division. In The EMBO Journal, they describe the tasks of certain membrane building blocks and how plants are impacted when these building blocks are disrupted.
For their study, the plant researchers examined the roots of the thale cress plant Arabidopsis thaliana. They cultivated normal plants and plants in which they artificially switched off certain enzymes that affect the composition of the membranes. "We wanted to find out which membrane building blocks are important for cell division and why," explains Professor Ingo Heilmann from MLU.
Plants - Cells - First - Material - Cell
For plants to develop, their cells have to divide. First, the genetic material located in the cell nucleus divides. Two whole new cell nuclei form from the duplicated genetic material. The other components of the cell, for example, the chloroplasts and mitochondria, are distributed between the two future daughter cells. All this takes place in the parent cell.
Only then are the daughter cells separated by a new cell wall. The whole process can be compared to a construction site. First, a temporary scaffold made of protein fibres, the so-called phragmoplast, forms in the middle of the cell. Like railway tracks, these fibres guide the building materials needed for the cell wall. Small bubbles gradually transport new cell wall material along the rails. This is assembled by a complex fusion machinery to form a larger structure, the cell plate. The cell plate continues to grow at its edges from the centre of the cell outward until a cell wall disc completely separates the daughter cells from one another. "The fusion machinery has to correctly coordinate the protein fibres for everything to function properly,...
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