September 28, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Plants Use a Compass

Plants have a compass that guides their stem cells. No Darwinism in this discovery from Stanford.

Researchers find ‘cellular compass’ guides stem cell division in plants (Stanford University). “Biologists observing the formation of leaves noticed the nuclei moved in bewildering ways,” the subtitle reads. “Further investigation uncovered proteins that act as compasses and motors, guiding the divisions of individual cells to create the overall pattern of the leaf.”

In a paper published Sept. 17 in Current Biology, the researchers report that these asymmetrically distributed proteins act like a compass within the cell to instruct the nucleus where to go. The nuclear position, in turn, controls the patterns of stem cell divisions, which ultimately create tiny pores, called stomata, throughout the leaf surface. Because stomata allow leaves to balance their water and carbon dioxide levels, nuclear alignment via these miniature protein compasses within individual stem cells have the potential to affect leaf function.

“I think our research highlights that the ability to watch the behaviors of cellular machines within living organisms can reveal unexpectedly elegant ways that individual cells cooperate to build tissues,” said Muroyama, who is lead author of the paper. “You might think that something as fundamental as cell division would be completely solved by now but there is still so much to learn.”

 

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Categories: Amazing Facts, Botany

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