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IISER Bhopal scientists discover key gene that regulates seed to seedling transition


NEW DELHI: Researchers from the Indian Institute of Education and Scientific Research (IISER) in Bhopal have identified a key gene in plants that encodes a protein that regulates the development of a seed in a young tree.

Researchers have reported on the nature of this gene and associated protein and its role in early seedling development in the journal Plant Physiology.


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According to the team, germination of a seed is a complex process involving many biochemical, physiological, and morphological changes within the seedling in response to the right environmental conditions, including humidity, temperature, air, and light. In many plants, one of the first steps in germination is the opening of the first embryonic leaves called cotyledons. The cotyledons protect the tender shoot that will become the aerial parts of the plant and the moment of its opening is crucial.

“Unfavorable conditions, such as untimely rains, can lead to premature opening of the cotyledon, which can lead to damage to the shoots and the plant not being able to maintain growth. This is one of the main reasons for the poor harvests faced by cotyledons. farmers due to unexpected weather conditions.

“It is useful to be able to control when the cotyledon opens to avoid undue loss and plant death. While a plant hormone called brassinosteroid (BR) is known to inhibit the opening of cotyledons in the dark and in light promotes the cotyledon When opening, the molecular regulation of the interaction between light and BR has not been well understood so far, “said Sourav Datta, associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences, IISER Bhopal.

Scientists at IISER have shown that a protein encoded by a gene called BBX32 negatively regulates light signaling and promotes BR signaling to inhibit the opening of the cotyledon in the Arabidopsis model plant related to the mustard family.

“This gene has been found to integrate information about external light conditions and internal BR signals to optimize the opening of the cotyledon. Researchers have shown that BBX32 is induced by BR and physically interacts with another protein called BZR1.”

“Now that we have some information about the genes and proteins that regulate this process, we can modulate the expression of these genes through biotechnological interventions to modulate the optimal moment of appearance and establishment of the seedlings,” he said.

The team said such control can potentially be used to protect the seedling from harsh environmental conditions and ensure higher agricultural yields.

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