When it comes to plant growth and development, one hormone is responsible for it all: auxin. New Washington University in St. Louis research has uncovered a mechanism by which it can affect a plant in a myriad of ways.
Biologist Lucia Strader in Arts & Sciences discovered a cellular transporter that links two of the most powerful hormones in plant development — auxin and cytokinin — and shows how they regulate root initiation and progression. Understanding why and how plants make different types of root architectures can help develop plants that better cope with distinct soil conditions and environments.
Plants fine-tune the response of their cells to the potent plant hormone auxin by means of large families of proteins that either step on the gas or put on the brake in auxin’s presence. Scientists at Washington University have learned that one of these proteins, a transcription factor, has an interaction region that, like a button magnet, has a positive and negative face. Because of this domain, the protein can bind two other proteins or even chains of proteins arranged back-to-front.