Seed World

New Images Reveal Unknown Plant Growth Insights

University of California San Diego and Stanford University researchers have revealed new insights on plant growth according to a release. The researchers released their new knowledge about different root chemicals being responsible for plant growth found using a mass spectrometer. Using this tool, researchers essentially produced a roadmap to show the distribution of small molecules on the stem cells of maize plant roots. Researchers also were able to determine how their placement factors into the plant’s maturation.

Assistant professor Alexandra Dickinson, visiting scientist at Stanford University, worked with Sarah Noll and Professor Richard Zare to adapt the new technology, desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry imaging (DESI-MSI). The technology was used to probe plant roots to determine what chemicals are involved in growth and energy production. The researchers focused on maize plants at the root tips for their study in which stem cells play an active role in the plant’s development. Zare commented that knowing which chemicals are present would help to increase the understanding of plant roots from the biological side.

The researchers then produced images which were some of the first to show the transition between stem cells and mature root tissue. The images can show the role of metabolites. Metabolites are the molecules which are involved in the plant’s energy production. The research focused on tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle metabolites since they were found to control root development. The images also showed unidentified compounds that could be key to plant growth.