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Chinese researchers discover mechanism to trigger plant regeneration

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-05-27 17:16

BEIJING -- Chinese researchers recently discovered the primary wound signal that initiates plant regenerative responses, providing a convenient method for improving the crops' genetic transformation efficiency.

Plants are more prone to injuries than animals, and they have evolved an extraordinary ability to cope with them. However, the molecular mechanisms that drive wound-induced regenerative responses have long been unknown.

Therefore, the journal Science selected "What controls organ regeneration?" as one of the top 25 questions among 125 major questions for humankind to answer.

A team of researchers led by Li Chuanyou from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences reported that their discovery the REGENERATION FACTOR1 (REF1) is the primary wound signal that initiates plant regenerative responses.

The study showed that when plant cells are injured, REF1 binds its receptor PORK1 to activate SlWIND1, a master regulator of wound-induced cellular reprogramming, thereby initiating regenerative responses.

Meanwhile, an activated SlWIND1 binds the promoter of the REF1 precursor gene to activate its expression, thereby amplifying REF1 signaling for tissue repair and organ regeneration.

The study also found that the application of REF1 has dramatically improved regeneration ability and transformation efficiency in several crops which are difficult to transform, including soybean, wheat, and maize.

The discovery provides a convenient and universal solution to address bottleneck issues such as low genetic transformation efficiency and dependence on species and genotypes in breeding practice, according to the study published in the journal Cell.

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