Scientists have figured out how cytokinin controls plant cell division

Cell division is fundamental to all life forms. All multicellular organisms, including plants and

animals develop from one cell, whichdivides billions of times to build a complex organism. Undifferentiated plant stem cells function as a reservoir of new cells from which a plant can grow and develop specialized tissues. New stems, leaves, roots and flowers originate from small clusters of stem cells in specific growth areas - the apical meristems.

There, growth cells are constantly dividing in the processmitosis, which is responsible for plant architecture. Scientists have long known that cytokinin plays a central role in this process of cell division, but how exactly it stimulates cell proliferation remained unknown.

In a new study, scientists from the laboratorySainsbury University of Cambridge and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) observed for the first time how cytokinin activates stem cell division in plants.

Using Arabidopsis thaliana - Representativeof the mustard family, commonly used as a model plant in crop research, they have shown that cytokinin directly promotes the transport of the MYB3R4 transcription factor from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. There, the hormone activates the expression of key genes in the cell cycle.

New research explains the mechanism by which cytokinin regulates stem cell division. The hormone moves proteins into the nucleus, where they activate genes involved in mitosis.

During mitotic cell division (mitosis)chromosomes replicate and then split equally into two daughter cells. Using time-lapse confocal microscopy of living plants, scientists were able to capture the cellular dynamics of proteins that were found to be important in triggering mitosis.

Understanding how self-renewal is controlledstem cells are critical to understanding plant development. The study will help identify new ways to boost plant growth and lay the groundwork for future work that will impact crop health and crop yields.

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