All Things Gardening forum: Some plants grow bigger - and meaner - when clipped, study finds

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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Oct 11, 2017 10:14 PM CST
October 11, 2017 by Diana Yates

Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these "overcompensators," as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry - think plant venom - when they are clipped.

Clipping removes the primary stem and simulates what browsing mammals do when they eat plants in the wild.

The study, reported in the journal Ecology, is the first to find this link and to trace it to three interconnected molecular pathways. The discovery could lead to the development of new methods for boosting plant growth while reducing the need for insecticides, the researchers said.

"You would think that a plant would either produce a lot of defensive chemicals to prevent it from being eaten or that it would put its energy into regrowing after being eaten - but not both, given its limited energy," said graduate student Miles Mesa, who led the research with University of Illinois animal biology professor Ken Paige/. "But we found that the plants that overcompensated - with higher reproductive success after having been damaged - also produced more defensive chemicals in their tissues."

About 90 percent of herbaceous flowering plants engage in a process called endoreduplication - duplicating all of the genetic material in their cells without cell division, the researchers said. This process increases cell size, allowing the plants to quickly rebound from damage.

Each round of endoreduplication doubles a cell's output. Having twice as many active genes means the cell can pump out more proteins needed to perform cellular tasks.

Some plants multiply their genomes again and again in response to being browsed. One example is scarlet gilia, a red-flowered plant that grows in western North America and is browsed by elk and mule deer. Paige is studying its responses to being eaten.

"We're seeing two- and three-fold increases in yield after it has been cut - in the same season," he said.

Paige discovered overcompensation and reported on it in 1987, but he said almost none of his peers in plant biology believed it. The idea that being browsed can increase some plants' reproductive success is counterintuitive, Paige said. It took more than a decade for the research community to accept the science; even today, almost no one else in plant biology studies the molecular biology of overcompensation.

The new study focused on Arabidopsis thaliana, a member of the mustard family that is often used in research. Paige and his colleagues had already identified the molecular pathway that promotes endoreduplication in this plant, along with an important regulator of the endoreduplication pathway, a molecule called ILP1.

The researchers discovered that by increasing the expression of the ILP1 gene, they could increase endoreduplication in genetic varieties of A. thaliana that don't normally overcompensate. This led to greater seed production in the altered plants and increased expression of defensive compounds in plant tissues, the researchers said.

This is possible because the molecular pathway that induces endoreduplication also feeds into two other pathways: the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway, for primary metabolism, and the shikimate pathway, which boosts plant chemical defenses, Paige said.

"There's a positive feedback loop," he said. "When you increase the number of chromosomes through endoreduplication, you increase gene expression, which increases the plant's ability to produce more defensive compounds and nucleotides for DNA production to endoreduplicate again."

The new findings may lead to advances in agricultural yields and reductions in pesticide use, Paige said.
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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Oct 12, 2017 8:11 AM CST
As much as I appreciate you searching the internet for interesting articles about plants, can you please just provide a link to the original article. It is my understanding that we are not supposed to be doing a copy/paste here on NGA. Check with @dave or @Trish for details.
Thank You!

I looked and found this link:
https://phys.org/news/2017-10-...
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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Oct 12, 2017 9:13 AM CST
Greene, the reason I copy and paste vs hyperlink sometimes is that a hyperlink can also provide links to other platforms that others may not want to read...it is all things gardeningūüėÄ
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
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Trish
Oct 12, 2017 12:32 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

As long as attribution is given to the original source/author, a copy and paste is fine. Thumbs up

Thanks for sharing, RJ!
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Name: Deb
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Bonehead
Oct 12, 2017 1:16 PM CST
I am more apt to read through information that is right before my eyes (i.e, cut and pasted) rather than opening a link which (a) may or may not work and (b) takes me away from the site, sometimes into who knows where. I actually tend to just scroll past those. So, I'm good with Craw's condensed version of the article s/he found interesting.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
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Weedwhacker
Oct 12, 2017 7:04 PM CST
I agree

Thank you for the clarification, Trish!
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Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
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lauriebasler
Oct 12, 2017 10:13 PM CST
That was a very interesting read, @crawgarden.

Nature is just so much fun.
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
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lauriebasler
Oct 12, 2017 10:27 PM CST
That was a very interesting read, @crawgarden.

Nature is just so much fun.





Name: Tia Doskocil
Texas
tiadoskocil
Oct 13, 2017 6:33 AM CST
Awesome ready!
Name: Arlene
Florida's east coast (Zone 9a)
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florange
Oct 13, 2017 3:37 PM CST
I can attest that some plants come back stronger after a hurricane. Some don't. My garden is filled with plants that go thru 100 mph circular winds and they do just fine. May lose all their leaves, may look battered, but a month later ... look, nothing happened!!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
Oct 13, 2017 8:21 PM CST
Arlene, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly things grow back in the south!
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
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Name: Arlene
Florida's east coast (Zone 9a)
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florange
Oct 14, 2017 6:24 AM CST
My oaks are having problems--didn't like 2 hurricanes in a year. Later I'll bring in a professional to trim them,

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