This Week's Discoveries | 19 May 2020
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Longevity gene in flowering plants
Omid Karami (IBL)
Omid is a postdoc in the Plant Science cluster at IBL. His research is focused on understanding the molecular basis of plant developmental switches and the mechanisms underlying reprogramming differentiated cells into embryonic stem cells. The topics addressed include plant ageing, rejuvenation, life history strategy, secondary growth, embryogenesis, cell biology, live-cell imaging, chromatin organization, auxin signaling, chemical biology, and in vitro regeneration.
Post-embryonic development and longevity of flowering plants are, for a large part, determined by the activity and maturation state of stem cell niches formed in the axils of leaves, the so-called axillary meristems (AMs). The genes that are associated with AM maturation and underlie the differences between monocarpic (reproduce once and die) annual and the longer-lived polycarpic (reproduce more than once) perennial plants are still largely unknown. Here we identify a new role for the Arabidopsis AT-HOOK MOTIF NUCLEAR LOCALIZED 15 (AHL15) gene as a suppressor of AM maturation.
Loss of AHL15 function accelerates AM maturation, whereas ectopic expression of AHL15 suppresses AM maturation and promotes longevity in monocarpic Arabidopsis and tobacco. Accordingly, in Arabidopsis grown under longevity promoting short-day conditions, or in polycarpic Arabidopsis lyrata, expression of AHL15 is upregulated in AMs. Together, our results indicate that AHL15 and other AHL clade-A genes play an important role in suppressing AM maturation and extending the plant’s lifespan.
This research was published in Nature Plants on 13 April. See also: Longevity gene discovered in plants