Foods Derived from Flowers Need Auxin

Foods Derived from Flowers Need Auxin
Strawberries – the only fruit with seeds on the outside

What seems like a simple question may have a very complex and essential answer. The question is this: How does a flowering plant develop fruits and seeds? This is a crucial question to answer for the production of common food crops such as peanuts, corn, rice, strawberries, and all other foods derived from flowers.

The time when flowers turn some of their parts into seeds or fruit determines when the fruit will be ready to harvest, how big it will be, and what nutrients and water must be applied at what time.

Zhongchi Liu at the University of Maryland has identified a gene called AGL62 that stimulates plant production of a growth hormone called “auxin.” Once the gene activates, the plant synthesizes auxin, causing the creation of a seedcoat. The seedcoat is the outer layer protecting the endosperm, the part of a seed that provides food for a developing plant embryo and fruit. More auxin can boost grain size and stimulate fruit enlargement. If there is insufficient auxin, the crop produced will be smaller, and the fruit will not be commercially viable.

Liu has been working with strawberries because they are easier to study, but it applies to virtually all foods derived from flowers. This is another example of the design God built into the creation of life. When humans finally understand the design, it opens up a way to produce more food for a hungry world.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Research News from the National Science Foundation