Researchers find basic mechanisms for root growth and cell replenishment | 1/30/2018 | Staff
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Understanding the functioning of root biology is crucial to understand how plants adapt to adverse environmental conditions like droughts. Two recent studies describe these kinds of mechanisms. One, published in the journal Molecular Systems Biology, describes the process through which cells stop growing due cell differentiation; the second one, published in Journal of Cell Science, describes plants' cell replenishment after being damaged.

The first study results from the researches carried out by the team of biologist Ana Caño Delgado at the University of Barcelona (UBICS). The second study was conducted by the same team in CRAG.


How do cells know when to stop growing?

The Arabidopsis thaliana plant root, used in these studies, is quite simple. Cells in the root with different functions are separated. Therefore, stem cells are on the tip, surrounded by daughter cells which are divided to produce root's tissues. Daughter cells grow in length and differ from the others to acquire typical functions that allow the root to transport water and nutrients. In order for the root to grow and adapt to a new changing environment, this division, elongation and cell differentiation has to be perfectly coordinated.

Ibañes - Caño - Delgado - Teams - Hypotheses

Ibañes' and Caño Delgado's teams developed three hypotheses to explain how cells know when to stop growing: after a certain period of time elapses after division; when they detect their root's position; or when cells detect their own size. To clarify which one of these hypotheses was correct, researcher Irina Pavelescu, first author of the study, created three analytical and computational root growth models. These models were tested with real measures of cell length in Arabidopsis roots, carried out with confocal microscopy in CRAG. "The main conclusion of the study is that root cells know they have reached the proper size and then they stop growing and end the differentiation. Therefore, they stop...
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