Biologists may have solved a 30-year-old mystery about how touch affects plants out

Biologists may have solved a 30-year-old mystery about how touch affects plants out ...

Scientists have long believed that touching plants can lead to a stress reaction in them, but until today it hasn''t been quite clear how it worked at a molecular level, something that a new study is hoping to investigate.

The researchers behind the study have identified certain genetic properties inside plants that lead to two distinct signaling pathways, which explain why plants react so strongly to being touched.

Researchers in a variety of industries may benefit from learning more about this approach at a basic level, from improving plant health to achieving high harvest yields.

"We exposed the plant thale cress to soft brushing, which resulted in a proliferation of genes, and further release of stress hormones," says a biologist from Lund University in Sweden.

"We then used genetic screening to look for the genes that were responsible for this process."

Some research on the plants'' anatomy, particularly their roots, indicated that special protein channels responded to cell membrane distortions by facilitating chemical signals.

There were hints compounds such as jasmonic acid played a critical role in transforming early chemical signals into behavioral or growth changes, although there were a slew of gaps to be identified.

Six individual genes were discovered by the researchers, three for the signaling pathway related to jasmonic acid, and three for the same signaling pathway.

When it comes to understanding how and why this reaction happens, biologists will have a lot of time to deal with, and it will enable us to continue to work on it in the future.

"Our findings solve a scientific mystery that has eluded the world''s molecular biologists for 30 years," says biologist Essam Darwish from Lund University.

"We have identified a completely new signaling pathway that controls a facility''s reaction to physical contact and touch," says the author. Now, the search for further avenues continues.

Every bite that a plant receives leads to a defensive molecular reaction, although these responses may be quite varied. These can be beneficial for plants to become more stress-resistant and flowering later in the year, for example.

The goal to try and harness this capability isn''t new; scientists are already considering how carefully managed "mechanical wounding" can help for longer term crops and harvests that are plentiful, because the plants build up more of a barrier to stress.

As climate change exerts greater pressure on agriculture and wheat production, these actions become even more important, and this latest piece of research gives scientists important information about how this is done.

"Even of the major responsibility to look at new ecologically responsible techniques to enhance crop productivity and resistance due to extreme weather conditions and pathogen infections," says Van Aken.

Science Advances has released the research.

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