Discovery of “Bio-Timer” That Controls Growth Rate of Flowering Plants

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Dr Toshiro Ito Assessing The Phenotype of Mutant Arabidopsis Plants Affected by a Disrupted AGAMOUS Floral Protein

A team of scientists, led by Dr Toshiro Ito, Senior Principal Investigator at Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory in Singapore, has discovered a timing mechanism that controls the growth rate in flowering plants.

These findings, which were published in the international journal Science, will provide valuable insights to understanding how increased control of plant growth could prove advantageous and help maximise production for the food industry.

Using Arabidopsis as a model plant, Dr Ito’s team has demonstrated that flower development utilises cell division to give stem cells a window of opportunity to change their fate. Floral plant stem cells divide a limited number of times before they stop altogether, but the mechanism that controls this timing remains unclear.

Understanding the basic principles of plant growth and development has significant impact from basic biology to food supply. It helps to create improvements for the production of high-value crops, especially in an ever-changing agricultural environment.

“In synthetic biology, to maximise the yield, we really have to synchronise the genetic process and thus it is useful to turn on and off the right pathways, at the right time,” said Dr Ito.