Welcome to The Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture
Plants have been instrumental for the development and establishment of Life on Earth. They provide our food and are the source of almost all energy used by mankind. Most alternative energy resources of the future are also likely to be plant-based.
JUST LOOK UP! How Plants Make Aerial Roots Science 2022
(Jerusalem, March 3, 2022)—Sometimes, to see the roots, you have to look up.Roots are normally associated with things that live underground, in the damp and the dark. Think of turnips, radishes and yams. However, many plants make their roots above ground. Ivy uses its roots to climb on buildings and the mighty ficus tree uses them to support their large branches. What makes plants form roots in the “wrong place,” so to speak? That would be like us humans sprouting legs from our shoulders.
In a study published this week in the prestigious journal Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) Professor Idan Efroni and his team found the hidden mechanism that enables aerial roots to happen. By decomposing the stem to individual cells, the team identified the extremely rare cells that, when conditions are ripe, cause roots to grow in the air.
“Superficially, these look like other plant cells which is why they evaded detection for so long,” Efroni explained. “We used new techniques to closely screen thousands of cells, one-by-one. We knew that by finding the cells that can make roots, we would be able to look for the ‘switch’ that turns them on.” Read More -->