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Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists

As a growing plant extends its roots into the soil, the new cells that form at their tips assume different roles, from transporting water and nutrients to sensing gravity. A new, National Science Foundation-supported study points to one way by which these newly-formed cells, which all contain the same DNA, take on their special identities. Researchers have identified a set of DNA-binding proteins in the roots of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana that work in combination to help precursor cells selectively read different parts of the same genetic script and acquire their different fates. Led by researchers at Duke University, the study offers clues to a longstanding question in developmental biology, namely how plants and animals make so many types of cells from the same set of instructions.

Visit Website | Image credit: Erin Sparks, Duke University