The role of calcium is well understood as a function of signalling between plants and symbiotic fungi that assist nitrogen fixation and phosphate uptake.
Now a new study by researchers at the John Innes Centre has discovered that calcium plays a key role in primary root development.
Using genetics and cell biology approaches the team reveal that calcium can be released by the nucleus of root apical meristem – the region of the growing root.
Using genetic approaches the team could modulate nuclear calcium signatures to obtain longer or shorter roots in the legume Medicago truncatula.
They also report a role for nuclear calcium release in modulating the plant growth hormone auxin.
“The ion channels governing symbiotic factor-induced nuclear calcium release are conserved among all land plants including non-symbiotic species suggesting additional function beyond symbioses.” says Dr Myriam Charpentier, from the John Innes Centre.
“Discovering additional role of nuclear calcium release may help us improve plant growth and translate the discovery into agronomically relevant species,” she adds
The group will now continue studying how modulation of nuclear calcium signals influence plant development and biotic interaction. This includes increasing the mechanistic understanding of its regulation as well as the mechanistic understanding of its impact.
The study: ‘Nuclear calcium signatures are associated with root development’ is in the journal Nature Communications.