A new study published in the journal Science discovered that plant roots and animal embryos depend on the same chemicals for successful development. Although the animal tissue-generating abilities of a group of chemical compounds called retinoids are already well known, it was only recently that scientists discovered that they also regulate the development of lateral roots in plants.
In all vertebrate animals, including humans, a type of retinoid called retinal is crucial in helping stem cells differentiate, specialize, and generate specific types of tissue. Animals cannot produce a retina, but must ingest it from herbivorous plants or animals.
“We know that plants have the capacity to produce this compound, that it is very important for animal development, and so it was very tempting to verify its role in plant development as well,” said the lead author of study, Alexandra Dickinson, professor at the University University of California, San Diego.
The research team, led by Dr Dickinson and Professor Philip Benfey of duke university, investigated whether the retina was responsible for lateral root development in plants. Experts treated the seedlings with a dye that glowed when retinal molecules bind to a protein inside the plant cell (an essential developmental process called protein binding).
As the seedling grew, bright spots appeared near the end of the main root. Immediately afterwards, a lateral root sprouted from these places. The researchers repeated this process at regular intervals, proving that lateral root growth was always preceded by a peak in retinal protein binding.
The results demonstrate that although plants and animals are very different organisms whose evolutionary paths diverged more than 1,500 million years ago, they nonetheless use closely related chemicals to generate new tissue over the course of time. development.
This is an example of what evolutionary biologists call “convergent evolution, A process that occurs when organisms that are not closely related develop similar traits as adaptive responses to similar environmental pressures.
Since retinoids have multiple medical uses, ranging from the development of acne creams to innovative cancer therapies, discovering how they regulate the development of plant root tissues is essential not only to better understand the relationship between plants. and animals, but also to open up new avenues of medical research.
Through Andrei Ionescu, Terre.com Editor-in-chief