What determines the optimal length of roots?

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February 9, 2022

Mechanism of plants to decide lengths of roots depending on the environment

A collaborative research group from RIKEN CSRS, Osaka University, the University of Tokyo, and Tokyo University of Agriculture identified a new genetic factor that controls plant root elongation in response to environmental changes.

The collaborative group conducted a molecular genetic analysis of the nobiro6 mutant that recovers significant root growth defect appearing in the Arabidopsis mutant bz1728, which lacks the unfolded protein response (UPR), a mechanism to maintain cellular homeostasis. This analysis revealed that the root elongation is recovered by dysfunction of TAF12b, a component of the general transcription factor complex. A further comprehensive analysis of gene expression demonstrated that the expression level of hundreds of genes fluctuates up and down over a wide range in the bz1728 mutant while the upregulation alone recovers to the normal level in the nobiro6 mutant. Since many of the recovered gene clusters work to acquire stress tolerance, TAF12b could be a significant factor for gene regulation that links signals from external stress detected by plants to growth response of root cells.

These results are expected to contribute to improving the productivity of sub-ground parts for plant factories and urban farming.

Original article
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America doi:10.1073/pnas.2120219119
J.-S. Kim, Y. Sakamoto, F. Takahashi, M. Shibata, K. Urano, S. Matsunaga, K. Yamaguchi-Shinozaki, Kazuo Shinozaki,
"Arabidopsis TBP-ASSOCIATED FACTOR 12 ortholog NOBIRO6 controls root elongation with unfolded protein response cofactor activity".
June-Sik Kim; Research Scientist
Bioproductivity Informatics Research Team
Kazuo Shinozaki; Group Director
Gene Discovery Research Group