Plant Stem Cells Require Low Oxygen Levels


Plants function as the green lungs of our planet.

Plants function as the green lungs of our planet. Rightfully so, due to the capacity of a large single tree releasing more than 120 kg of oxygen into the Earth’s atmosphere every year through a series of sunlight-fuelled reactions in photosynthesis. However during flood events, plant tissues may experience severe oxygen shortage, a stressful situation that every year leads to substantial loss in yield for all major crops such as rice, wheat and barley.

Researchers from the Department of Biology at University of Copenhagen, University of Pisa in Italy and RWTH Aachen University and University of Heidelberg both in Germany have now discovered that low oxygen concentrations (hypoxia) provide essential conditions for plant growth.

- 'Equipped with a new generation of microscopic oxygen probes, we were able to measure the oxygen concentration of a tissue cubicle of approximately thirty cells, referred to as the shoot apical meristem', says professor Ole Pedersen, University of Copenhagen and continues, 'We found that in this region, a niche of low oxygen envelops the stem cells that are responsible for the production of new leaves and flowers. Here, low oxygen levels control the rate at which new leaves are produced by promoting the stability of a protein, named ZPR2, responsible for cell proliferation and differentiation'.

Read more at University of Copenhagen