Plant regeneration: new discoveries and perspectives

In recent years, researchers have been actively studying the process of plant regeneration, seeking to unravel its mysteries. Plants have an amazing ability to regenerate their bodies from normal cells that are not related to reproduction. This process is based on the formation of a structure called the shoot apical meristem (AAM), which plays a key role in plant reconstruction.

However, the mechanisms of AAM formation have so far remained a mystery. A research team led by the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) in Japan focused on Arabidopsis, a model plant species, to solve this mystery.

The researchers identified and characterized a key negative regulator of shoot regeneration known as the WUSCHEL-RELATED HOMEOBOX 13 (WOX13) gene and its associated protein. Their study, published in Science Advances, showed how WOX13 affects the non-dividing function of callus cells, which may affect the efficiency of plant regeneration.

Previous studies by Ikeuchi’s group had already shown a role for the WOX13 gene in tissue repair and organ adhesion after grafting. This led to the assumption of its potential role in the regulation of shoot regeneration. To confirm this hypothesis, the researchers conducted experiments with a mutated version of Arabidopsis that had a dysfunctional WOX13 gene.

Analysis of the experimental results showed that the absence of the WOX13 gene accelerated the process of shoot regeneration, while its expression slowed down this process. This confirmed the role of WOX13 as a negative regulator of shoot regeneration.

To study the mechanisms of WOX13 action and its effect on shoot meristem regulator genes in more detail, the researchers conducted a comparative study of gene expression in mutant and normal plants. They found that the absence of the WOX13 gene did not significantly affect Arabidopsis gene expression under callus-inducing conditions. However, when shoots were induced, the absence of WOX13 resulted in increased gene changes associated with shoot meristem regulation. When WOX13 was overexpressed in mutant plants, however, these same genes were suppressed within 24 hours.

This study highlights the important role of the WOX13 gene in the regulation of shoot regeneration. It has a negative effect on shoot meristem regulators while simultaneously activating cell wall modifier genes that are involved in cell expansion and differentiation.

The discovery of a new pathway of cell fate specification in plant regeneration may have important practical applications. Increasing the efficiency of shoot regeneration in plants could be useful for agriculture, horticulture, and forestry. It may also contribute to the development of new methods of tissue repair and regeneration in animals and humans.

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