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Scientists Figure Out Plant Growth Mechanism (Image 2)

Illustration shows auxin binding to TIR1; in presence of auxin, plant growth genes are turned on

When a plant is not growing, auxin--a class of plant growth hormone--is not produced, and growth genes are repressed, or turned "off." But when conditions are favorable for growth, auxin is produced and binds to a molecule known as TIR1. The auxin-TIR1 complex in turn signals for the destruction of the repressor protein that keeps growth in check, and growth promoting genes are turned "on."

Researchers say this discovery represents an important advance in our understanding of fundamental biological processes, and could also have important applications in developing improved crops.

This image accompanied NSF press release, "How Your Garden Grows." [See related image Here.]

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

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