Early communication

Plant & zo

The science of plants and more

Early communication

Like plants, plant cells cannot change their place. For forming functioning organs, good communication is a must. To tell the cell when to divide, and what its job is. This communication is most important at the verry start. During the development of the embryos the growth regions are established. When this does not happen correctly, the root or shoot will not grow. Verry important, having good communication.

Still, we don not know much about it. Researchers from France studied how communication is regulated during the development of the root-growth region. While most of a plant embryo has no direct contact with the mother plant, the embryonic root has. It can get instructions from the embryo itself, but also from the mother plant.

Good communication is important, when you don’t speak up, instructions from others get a chance

The researchers noticed that the WIP-gene family has a crucial role during the development of the embryogenic root-growth region. The interesting part of this gene family is that half of its genes are only turned on in the embryo, while the other half is only turned on in the mother plant. A cell can use this to know if it is part of the mother plant or the embryo.

When the cell believes it is part of the embryo, then it will follow the embryo development instructions. The cell will undergo the precise cell divisions needed for proper root-growth region development. Are the embryo-WIP genes turned off, then the cell does not know which instructions to follow. The mother-plant WIP genes can now convince the cells that they do not have to divide that precisely. The root-growth region doesn’t develop.

The WIP genes show us: good communication is important. When you don’t speak up, instructions from others get a chance. Before you know it, it will be one big mess. But when you follow the example of plants, by having good communication from the start, things will bloom.


Yujuan Du, Maria Victoria Gomez Roldan, Aimen Haraghi, Nawel Haili, Farhaj Izhaq, Marion Verdenaud, Adnane Boualem and Abdelhafid Bendahmane (2022) Spatially expressed WIP genes control Arabidopsis embryonic root development. Nat. Plants 8, 635–645. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-022-01172-4

Published by Femke de Jong

A plant scientist who wants to let people know more about the wonders of plant science. Follow me at @plantandzo

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