My watch list
my.bionity.com  
Login  

Bifacial Stem Cells Produce Wood and Bast

One of the most important growth processes on Earth studied

24-Jan-2019

Dongbo Shi

Picture of two cell clones (in green), each of which originated from a single cambium stem cell and contributed to both the xylem and the phloem

So-called bifacial stem cells are responsible for one of the most critical growth processes on Earth – the formation of wood. By alternately developing into wood and bast cells, these stem cells are thus starting points for forming wood as well as generating plant bast fibres. A team of researchers under the direction of Dr Thomas Greb, a Heisenberg Professor at Heidelberg University, were recently able to demonstrate this phenomenon using new experimental tools. The scientists from the Centre for Organismal Studies labelled and studied specific types of cells in the growth layer of plants, the cambium.

Life on Earth is fed by energy from the sun. Plants are the primary and most important recipients of this energy, converting it into sugars and biomass that are then utilised by animal organisms and humans alike. The process by which most of the biomass is stored long-term is wood formation. Wood is produced from a thin layer of stem cells called the cambium, which is located directly under the bark of shoots and roots. It produces both wood and plant bast, which is often used in the fibre industry. “Although it has an essential role in the Earth’s materials cycle and supplies important materials for our daily lives, how the cambium functions is largely unknown,” states Prof. Greb, who heads the “Developmental Physiology” research group at the Centre for Organismal Studies.

By labelling different cell types inside the cambium, the Heidelberg researcher and his team identified the cells that are the source of both tissues – the wood (xylem) and the bast (phloem). These bifacial stem cells produce cells bidirectionally, with wood cells growing inward and bast cells outward. To label the stem cells, the team used fluorescent proteins that helped identify the activity of specific genes. Using a molecular “trick”, the researchers were able to firmly anchor the labels in the cells and all their descendants, enabling the team to track and reconstruct cell development over a longer period of time.

By improving their understanding of how these cells work, the researchers hope next to be able to model plant growth and uncover the regulatory mechanisms of cell properties.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • sugars
  • plants
  • physiology
  • biomass
  • bifacial stem cells
More about Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
  • News

    Coupled Proteins

    Researchers from Heidelberg University and Sendai University in Japan used new biotechnological methods to study how human cells react to and further process external signals. They focussed on the interaction between so-called G-proteins – the “mediators” of signal transmission – and the re ... more

    Networks of Gene Activity Control Organ Development

    For the first time, researchers have decoded the genetic programmes that control the development of major organs in humans and other selected mammals – rhesus monkeys, mice, rats, rabbits, and opossums – before and after birth. Using next-generation sequencing technologies, the molecular bi ... more

    Traffic Jam in the Cell: How Are Proteins Assigned to Specific Transporters?

    A fundamental cellular mechanism ensures that proteins are transported to the places they are needed in the cells. So-called vesicles are responsible for that transport. Determining their composition has been difficult up to now, not least because of their short life span. By combining inno ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE