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Conservation through cultivation

New group of plant growth hormones is discovered

A new group of plant hormones that are critical to the branching of plants has been discovered.

. . . The growth and development of plants is largely controlled by plant hormones. Plants produce these chemicals themselves, thus controlling the growth and development of roots and stems, for example. A number of plant hormones, such as auxins, giberellins and cytokinins, were discovered by scientists decades ago. Now a new group of hormones has been found: The so-called strigolactones.

Previous research by institutes including Wageningen UR has shown that strigolactones plays a major part in the interaction between plants and their environment. As plants cannot move, they commonly use their own chemicals to control the environment as best as they can.

Strigolactones are of major importance to the interaction between plants and symbiotic fungi, for example. These fungi live in a symbiotic relationship with plants, lthat is mutually beneficial. They transport minerals from the soil to the plant, while the plant gives the fungi sugars ‘in return’.

Unfortunately, the strigolactones have also been “hijacked” by harmful organisms: They help seeds of parasitic plants to germinate when plant roots are in the vicinity. The seedlings of the parasite attach to the root of the plant and use the plant’s nutrients for their own growth and reproduction. Unlike the symbiotic fungi, however, they do not give anything in return. On the contrary, the parasitism often causes the host plant to die, eventually. . . . [ read more New Group of Plant Hormones Discovered]