What is it about?

Have you ever wondered why some birch trees are more bush-like? Our research uncovers a genetic change from a naturally occurring birch variant that impacts the production of a growth substance called strigolactone, leading to this unique bushy appearance. Instead of growing tall, this variant becomes short and branchy due to this genetic variation. Additionally, we observed an interesting difference in the bush-like trees: the distribution of a growth hormone known as auxin is distinct compared to tall birch trees. In typical birches, auxin levels decrease from the top of the tree to the bottom, but in the bushy variants, this gradient pattern is absent. This insight not only explains the varied shapes of birch trees but also broadens our understanding of how plants regulate their growth, which could be crucial for future plant breeding efforts.

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Why is it important?

Our study offers insights into tree breeding and ecological restoration, revealing how genetic variations influence tree architecture. This knowledge has practical applications in developing specific tree forms, not only for urban landscaping but also for enhancing forest diversity and biomass production. Beyond these applications, our findings on the interaction between plant hormones provide valuable perspectives for agriculture and environmental science. Understanding these dynamics opens new possibilities for crop cultivation and forest management, enhancing our approach to ecological conservation and plant development research.


Working on this publication has been an incredibly enriching experience, thanks to the dedication and expertise of our research team and all the collaborators. Hope the knowledge can help the scientific community and play a role in advancing crop cultivation, enhancing forest management, and contributing to ecological conservation.

Chang Su
Wageningen Universiteit

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Tree architecture: A strigolactone-deficient mutant reveals a connection between branching order and auxin gradient along the tree stem, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2308587120.
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