How does a developing plant shoot know how, where and when to grow?
How does a developing plant shoot know how, where and when to grow? Dividing cells need to pass messages from one another to coordinate growth. In plants, important messages are packaged into RNA, which are sent from cell to cell.
By studying the mustard-like plant Arabidopsis thaliana, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientist David Jackson and colleagues found that RNA messages need a special protein to escort them where they need to go. Without this escort, cells cannot coordinate and the plant fails to develop properly.
Unlike animal cells, plant cells are surrounded by a rigid cell wall. Messages can cross this wall through tiny holes called plasmodesmata. Munenori Kitagawa, who led a study published in the journal Science, says that "plasmodesmata are nanochannels embedded in the cell wall. They mediate various signals' transport from cell to cell, including protein, RNA, hormones, ions and nutrients."