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article imageWhy do plants live longer than animals?

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By Tim Sandle     Oct 28, 2013 in Science
The simple answer to the question appears to be stem cells. Stem cells are crucial for the continuous generation of new cells, and they appear to be more efficient in plants than in animals.
That is the conclusion of a research study by plant researchers at VIB and Ghent University. Specifically, certain organizing stem cells in plant roots are less sensitive for DNA damage. These cells hold an original and intact DNA copy which can be used to replace damaged cells as necessary. Given that plant growth and development depends on the continuous generation of new cells, the stem cells play a key role and appear to work very efficiently. This is particularly so when plant stem cells are compared with animal stem cells.
Stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms. The cells can differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells. In mammals, there are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues.
In developing their understanding, the research team have identified a complex molecular network that gives plants a high re-generation capability. Central in this process is the discovery of a new protein called ERF115. When the organizing cells need to divide to replace damaged surrounding stem cells, ERF115 gets activated.
The research has been published in the journal Science Express. The paper is titled “ERF115 Controls Root Quiescent Center Cell Division and Stem Cell Replenishment.”
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