Chinese researchers have identified the primary wound signal that triggers regenerative responses in plants, potentially revolutionizing crop genetic transformation efficiency. This discovery offers a significant advancement in agricultural science and plant biology.

Plants, unlike animals, frequently sustain injuries and have evolved remarkable mechanisms to cope with damage. Despite this, the molecular processes underlying wound-induced regenerative responses have long remained elusive. The journal Science highlighted “What controls organ regeneration?” as one of the top 25 questions among 125 major questions for humanity to answer.

A research team led by Li Chuanyou from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has identified REGENERATION FACTOR1 (REF1) as the primary wound signal initiating plant regenerative responses. Their groundbreaking study provides insight into the molecular mechanisms of plant regeneration.

When plant cells are injured, REF1 binds to its receptor, PORK1, which activates SlWIND1, a master regulator of wound-induced cellular reprogramming. This activation initiates regenerative responses in the plant. Additionally, SlWIND1 binds to the promoter of the REF1 precursor gene, enhancing its expression and amplifying REF1 signaling for tissue repair and organ regeneration.

The application of REF1 has significantly improved regeneration ability and transformation efficiency in various crops that are typically challenging to transform, such as soybean, wheat, and maize. This discovery presents a practical and universal solution to overcome bottlenecks in genetic transformation efficiency and species-dependent breeding practices.

This groundbreaking research, published in the journal Cell, provides a promising method for enhancing crop resilience and efficiency, potentially transforming agricultural practices worldwide.

By Impact Lab