but no droop in long-lasting plants
lettuce and wilting roses could be a thing of the past,
following the identification of a key plant gene by University
scientists. The discovery could also improve food shelf
life, and help speed up reforestation programmes. Plant
scientists Professor Meyer and Dr Elena Zubko (pictured
left) have identified the plant gene which produces
a specific type of hormones (cytokinins) to counteract
ageing, and control shoot production. By enhancing the
gene to overproduce cytokinins, they saw dramatic results:
a cut plant survived over six months in water alone
pictured below alongside an unenhanced example. Other
plants grew abundant shoots which could be cut off to
produce new plants.
implications of the discovery are wide-ranging, as Professor
Meyer explains: "The image of almost everlasting flowers
is the most dramatic, but not the most important, manifestation
of our research. The gene we've identified could help
to maintain vegetables in prime condition during transportation,
especially important for large, developing nations where
enough food is grown but bad infrastructure prevents it
reaching the consumer in time.
ability to grow abundant shoots very quickly could speed
up reforestation programmes, by combating the slow growth
of trees in the early stages."
put their discovery to practical use, the scientists are
now considering how to control the gene, the timing and
the level of hormone it produces. They are looking at
parallels in nature, comparing the new plant gene with
a bacterial gene that has similar hormone producing effects,
and have applied to the BBSRC for further funding.
discovery, published in the the Plant Journal and
press released by the University, provoked extensive media
Meyer was interviewed on BBC Look North and the
World Service, and the research was featured in
both local and many national papers, and is to be covered
by many specialist publications in farming and horticulture.
the University press release