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Mechanism for Fruit and Seed Development in Flowering Plants Now Identified

Rising global temperatures affect pollinator populations and food production is becoming increasingly difficult for farmers. A new study at the University of Maryland addresses this issue, giving insights into how flowering plants develop fruits and seeds. In the study led by Zhongchi Liu, the team aimed to discover how fertilization — or pollination — triggers the fruit development process. The team suspected that an internal communication system signals the plant to develop fruit, but the researchers were unsure how that system was being activated by fertilization or pollination.

 

Rising global temperatures affect pollinator populations and food production is becoming increasingly difficult for farmers. A new study at the University of Maryland addresses this issue, giving insights into how flowering plants develop fruits and seeds.

 

In the study led by Zhongchi Liu, the team aimed to discover how fertilization — or pollination — triggers the fruit development process. The team suspected that an internal communication system signals the plant to develop fruit, but the researchers were unsure how that system was being activated by fertilization or pollination. To find out, the team simulated pollination and fruit development mechanisms using strawberry plants as they are particularly suited to fertilization modeling due to their unique structure and seed location.

 

Liu's team identified AGL62, a gene universally found in all flowering plants, as the trigger to a plant's fruit and seed production. AGL62 stimulates the production of the plant growth hormone auxin. Once A6L62 activates, auxin is synthesized to prompt the creation of seed coat, the seed's outer protective layer; the endosperm, the part of a seed that provides food for a developing plant embryo; and fruit. The researchers said that auxin's role in regulating endosperm growth is especially significant as it impacts the size of the grain and enlargement of the fruit.

 

For more details, read the article in the National Science Foundation website.

 

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