A new study from the Hebrew University undermines the perception of injury and recovery from plant injury

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Unlike animals, the only way plants can deal with injuries is to re-grow the damaged organs. Their ability to recover after a serious injury is one of the most impressive and intriguing features. We encounter this ability on a daily basis, for example, when we dip a branch in water and see it re-grow its truncated root system * Now a new facet of this system has been discovered that undermines our knowledge of the process

Dr. Idan Efroni and Rotem Metosevich from the Faculty of Agriculture at the Hebrew University. Photo: Assaf Moskone

Unlike animals, the only way plants can deal with injuries is to re-grow the damaged organs. Their ability to recover after a serious injury is one of the most impressive and intriguing features. We encounter this ability on a daily basis, for example, when we dip a branch in water and see it re-grow its truncated root system.

In a study published a few days ago in the scientific journal Nature Plants, Dr. Idan Efroni and his team from the Faculty of Agriculture at the Hebrew University examined the mechanism that allows roots to regenerate after amputation. Researchers previously knew that in order to activate the root self-repair system, a plant called auxin , Which flows regularly between the plant cells.The prevailing research perception so far has been that following an injury the plant senses a disruption in the flow of auxin and as a result, a process of root repair begins and returns to normal flow.According to this concept, root repair happens almost automatically.

However, Dr. Efroni’s research shows that this is not an automated process at all. In fact, the plant decides if and how to do it. Notice the formation of a special cell group in the root, whose function is to produce the hormone auxin following the injury itself – with only the hormone produced at the site of the injury being the one that triggers the root restoration process.

A picture of the plant's root from Der Efroni's laboratory
A picture of the plant’s root from Der Efroni’s laboratory. Photo: Rotem Metosevich

“Our conclusion is that recovery after injury is not a default, but a decision that the plant actively makes by producing the hormone oxine in certain cells,” explains Rotem Metosevich of Dr. Efroni’s team, adding that “this discovery raised the idea that the plant could be deceived by control. In the production of the hormone and thus, cause repair even in roots that do not usually undergo reconstruction. “Indeed, the researchers developed precise manipulations that were able to cause the root repair after very serious injuries, which normally would have prevented the formation of hormone production cells. Was supposed to recover under other conditions.

“This research contributes to an understanding of the mechanism involved in plant restoration after injury, which will lead to the development and improvement of new propagation methods and the expansion of the number of varieties and species available to farmers,” explains Prof. Efroni. “This is not only a possible increase in the amount of crop, but also the development of more nutritious varieties, resistant to various diseases and ultimately, more beneficial to humanity.”

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