Academic journal article Science and Children

More Food at Lower Cost

Academic journal article Science and Children

More Food at Lower Cost

Article excerpt

New research from the University of Bristol has shown how to increase the length of root hairs on plants, potentially improving crop yields, as plants with longer root hairs take up minerals and water more efficiently.

Angharad (Harry) Jones, a PhD student in Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, said, "Each root hair is a single, elongate cell and the length of each hair depends on having an adequate supply of the plant hormone auxin. Auxin is used, for example, in hormone rooting powders to encourage cuttings to root. The difficulty has been in understanding how auxin is delivered to the root hairs in order to promote their growth."

Since auxin cannot be observed directly, Jones used a computer model built by physicist Eric Kramer at Bard College to calculate where auxin was likely to be in plants. The model was based on current knowledge of auxin transport through and around the relevant cells.

What the model showed was very surprising: Auxin is not delivered to root hair cells directly, but via the cells next door which act as canals through which the auxin is transported. …

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