Scientists at Leiden University in the Netherlands have discovered a new gene that allows annual plants to continue to grow after flowering rather than die. The discovery may allow increasing crop yields without sowing them anew every year. An article by researchers is published in the journal Nature Plants.
Researchers have identified in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) the AHL15 gene, which determines whether the plant will be able to vegetate after flowering. Growth, that is, growth and development, is provided by growth points – groups of stem cells that form new stems with leaves or flowers. In perennials, some growth points remain active, but this does not occur in annuals. When the AHL15 gene is suppressed, the life of perennial plants becomes shorter, and when overexpressed, the plants bloom several times.
According to scientists, the discovery will answer the question why, during the evolution, some plants became annuals and others perennial. In addition, maintaining the activity of some stem cell groups in annual crops such as rice or wheat would allow plants to continue to grow after harvest.