29. Oct. 2019

Press Release, 29.10.2019

Scientist Marketa Zdarska, together with her colleague Abigail R. Cuyacot, as well as other colleagues from the Jan Hejatko Research Group at CEITEC Masaryk University, recently published the results of their research in the prestigious scientific journal, Molecular Plant. Zdarska and Cuyacot discovered an important link between two key phytohormones – Cytokinin and Ethylene – and their role in regulating the growth of plant roots. The importance of this discovery is confirmed by highlighting the article in the journal´s "Spotlight" section, which is reserved only for the most interesting articles of the given edition. The author of the article in the "Spotlight" section is leading Slovak scientist Eva Benkova, recently working at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) in Austria.

An important part of this publication was the unique visualisation of proteins hormonal signal transduction in the root cells using advanced microscopic techniques and the so-called fluorescent reporters, obtained thanks to successfully established collaboration with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Caltech is a world-renowned science institute based in California. The collaboration between the U.S.-based laboratory of Professor Elliot Meyerowitz and the Jan Hejatko Research Group was established 5 years ago, thanks to a joint grant provided by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS), in which Marketa Zdarska participated. Zdarska obtained key contacts during her postdoctoral fellowship at Caltech.

Part of the experiments were carried out in custom-made growth chambers, which were developed together with the Photon Systems Instruments (PSI), based near Brno in Drásov. These specially designed chambers allow direct experiments with ethylene gas. The engineers from PSI, in collaboration with scientists from the Jan Hejatko Research Group, are currently piloting an even more advanced methodology, which would allow for the real time visualisation of the expression of ethylene-regulated genes, directly under a microscope equipped with a special incubator. A similar scientific instrument is most likely the only one of its kind in the world, and was acquired thanks to the participation of Jan Hejatko´s laboratory in the Czech BioImaging project supported by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

It is crucial to understand how plant hormones work and communicate because they work differently than human hormones. Plant hormones, cytokinin and ethylene, are essential regulators of plant growth and development. Among other factors, they are important in controlling germination, root growth, and the formation of root hairs. Ethylene is also an essential stress hormone, which controls, for example, the response of the plant to the pathogen’s attack or ripening of the fruit. Regulation of fruit ripening via controlled ethylene production has a very significant economic impact and allows to artificially regulate the ripening time of imported fruit.

The next step in Marketa Zdarska’s research is to further clarify the molecular mechanism of these hormonal interactions and to identify other possible links. The challenge remains to determine exactly when, and under which conditions this process takes place. It is probable that other signalling components play a role in those hormonal events. A deeper investigation should be possible with the help of a new instrument that scientists from CEITEC are currently developing, in collaboration with PSI.

Marketa Zdarska is an excellent example of a successful woman in science who can combine the challenging role of a mother with the role of an internationally recognised scientist. Zdarska carried out her research in collaboration with her colleagues, Abigail Cuyacot, Amel Yamoune, Agnieszka Szmitkowska, Vendula Hrdinova, and Zuzana Gelova, led by Jan Hejátko, also with colleagues from Caltech Institute, Paul Tarr and Elliot Meyerowitz. Zdarska points out that balance is important for both plants and people. Just as the balance between plant hormones in her study allows for the optimal growth of a plant, the balance between career and family life allows for optimal development of the individual on a professional and personal level. Such research results demonstrate that scientists at CEITEC are doing excellent science and that the #brnoregion continues to demonstrate its mission to be a city of science and innovation.

Read the full article HERE






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