such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
May 27, 2009 — An international team of scientists has cracked the problem of pod shatter in brassica crops such as rapeseed or canola.
Just before harvest, the pods are prone to shatter, causing a 10-25% loss of seeds and up to 70% in some cases.
"By artificially producing a hormone in a specific region of the
fruit, we have stopped the fruit opening in the related model plant
Arabidopsis, completely sealing the seeds inside," says Dr Lars
Østergaard from the John Innes Centre. "We need to refine the process
for use in agriculture to reduce seed loss but still allowing them to
be easily harvested.
The scientists discovered that the absence of the hormone auxin in a
layer of cells in the fruit is necessary for the fruit to open. Two
stripes of tissue form where no auxin is present, and these separate to
open the pod.
It is already known that proper plant development, such as organ
growth and patterning, requires specific hormones to accumulate in
specific regions. This is the first time that removal of a hormone has
been found to be important for cell fate and growth.
Rapeseed, also known as oilseed rape, is grown for its tiny black
oil-containing seeds, prized for cooking oil and margarines low in
saturated fat, and increasingly for biodiesel. The meal that remains
after oil extraction is also used as a high protein animal feed.
Brassica plants normally disperse their seeds by a pod-shattering
mechanism. Although this mechanism is an advantage in nature, it is one
of the biggest problems in farming rapeseed. As well as losing valuable
seeds, it results in runaway 'volunteer' seedlings that contaminate the
next crop in the rotation cycle.
If rape seeds are harvested early to get round the problem, immature seeds may be collected which are of an inferior quality.
Rapeseed is relatively undeveloped in breeding terms when compared
to wheat and other crops. It retains characteristics of a wild plant
including maximizing seed dispersal. JIC scientists are also
researching genetic solutions to reduce pod shatter and to improve
breeding of the crop.
The John Innes Centre is an institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
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