Home Science & Technology Oxford Univer...

Oxford University Scientists have discovered 320 million year-old fossil containing oldest plant root cell

The fossils studied during the research are the remains of the soil from the first giant tropical rainforests on Earth

0
Scientists in laboratory Image source: Wikimedia commons

Oxford University Herbaria has found in a fossilized root tip, the cells which gave rise to the roots of an ancient plant. The researchers also found, it is the first ever actively growing fossilized root i.e an ancient plant frozen in time. The study is published in the journal Current Biology.

Follow NewsGram at Twitter: @newsgram1

‘I was examining one of the fossilised soil slides held at the University Herbaria as part of my research into the rooting systems of ancient trees when I noticed a structure that looked like the living root tips we see in plants today. I began to realize that I was looking at a population of 320 million-year-old plant stem cells preserved as they were growing — and that it was the first time anything like this had ever been found. It gives us a unique window into how roots developed hundreds of millions of years ago.’ Oxford Plant Sciences PhD student Alexander (Sandy) Hetherington, who made the discovery during the course of his research, said.

800px-03-09_Mnium1
Plant cells. Image source: Wikimedia

These stem cells are located in the meristems (in plants at the tips of roots and shoots) of multicellular organisms. These stem cells are renewing cells which form these organisms. The 320 million-year-old stem cells discovered are different to all those living today, with a unique pattern of cell division that remained unknown until now. That tells us that some of the mechanisms controlling root formation in plants and trees have now become extinct and may have been more diverse than thought.

These roots were important because they comprised the rooting structures of the plants growing in Earth’s first global tropical wetland forests with tall trees over 50m in height and were in part responsible for one of the most dramatic climate change events in history. The evolution of deep rooting systems increased the rate of chemical weathering of silicate minerals in rocks — a chemical reaction that pulled CO2 out of the atmosphere, leading to the cooling of Earth and thus one of the planet’s great ice ages.

Follow NewsGram at Facebook: NewsGram

The fossils studied during this research are the remains of the soil from the first giant tropical rainforests on Earth. The rock in which the soil is preserved formed in the Carboniferous swamps that gave rise to the coal sources spanning what is now Appalachia to central Europe, including the coal fields in Wales, northern England and Scotland.

Sandy has named the stem-cell fossil Radix carbonica (Latin for ‘coal root’).

‘These fossils demonstrate how the roots of these ancient plants grew for the first time. It is startling that something so small could have had such a dramatic effect on Earth’s climate. This discovery also shows the importance of collections such as the Oxford University Herbaria — they are so valuable, and we need to maintain them for future generations.’ says Professor Liam Dolan, Head of the Department of Plant Sciences at Oxford University and senior author of the paper.

-by Vrushali Mahajan, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter @Vrushali Mahajan 

ALSO READ:

Next Story

Scientists Identify Antibodies With Potential to Block COVID-19 Virus

Journal Science published the study of antibodies that could potentially block the virus

0
Coronavirus
Scientists have found a pair of antibodies which could pottentially block the COVID-19 virus. Pixabay

From a patient who recovered from COVID-19, scientists have isolated a pair of neutralising antibodies that could potentially block the virus responsible for the pandemic from entering into host cells.

The study, published in the journal Science, suggests that a “cocktail” containing both antibodies could provide direct therapeutic benefits for COVID-19 patients.

The new information detailed in the study could also aid the development of small molecule antivirals and vaccine candidates to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.

The twin antibodies identified by the researchers are named B38 and H4.

The study by Yan Wu from Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues found that the two antibodies bind to the glycoprotein spike of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and thereby block the entry of the virus into host cells.

doctors
The twin antibodies identified by the researchers are named B38 and H4. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Read More: Realme Global User Base Reaches 3.5 Crore, 2.1 crore in India Alone

Preliminary tests of the two antibodies in a mouse model resulted in a reduction of virus titers, suggesting that the antibodies may offer therapeutic benefits.

The researchers found that the antibodies can each bind simultaneously to different epitopes on the spike’s receptor binding domain (RBD), such that both antibodies together may confer a stronger neutralising effect than either antibody on its own — a prediction supported by in vitro experiments.

This feature also means that, should one of the viral epitopes mutate in a way that prevents the binding of one of the two antibodies, the other antibody may yet retain its neutralising activity. (IANS)

Next Story

COVID-19 Poses Serious Complications, Even Death Risk for Children: Research

Children at a higher risk from COVID-19

0
Children
Children at high risk of complications from Covid-19. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have revealed that children, teenagers and young adults are at greater risk for severe complications from COVID-19 and those with underlying health conditions are at even greater risk of death.

“This study provides a baseline understanding of the early disease burden of COVID-19 in pediatric patients,” said study researcher Hariprem Rajasekhar from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Department of Pediatrics in the US. “The findings confirm that this emerging disease was already widespread in March and that it is not universally benign among children,” Rajasekhar added.

Published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the study followed 48 children and young adults – from newborns to 21 years old — who were admitted to pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) in the US and Canada for COVID-19 in March and April.

More than 80 per cent had chronic underlying conditions, such as immune suppression, obesity, diabetes, seizures or chronic lung disease. Of those, 40 per cent depended on technological support due to developmental delays or genetic anomalies. More than 20 per cent experienced failure of two or more organ systems due to COVID-19, and nearly 40 per cent required a breathing tube and ventilator.

At the end of the follow-up period, nearly 33 percent of the children were still hospitalised due to COVID-19, with three still requiring ventilator support and one on life support. Two of the children admitted during the three-week study period died.

 

Children
Children, teenagers and young adults at very high risk of COVID-19, say researchers. Pixabay

The researchers said they were “cautiously encouraged” by hospital outcomes for the children studied, citing the 4.2 per cent mortality rate for PICU patients compared with published mortality rates of up to 62 per cent among adults admitted to ICUs, as well as lower incidences of respiratory failure.

The study noted that doctors in the New York metropolitan area are seeing what appears to be a new COVID-related syndrome in children. “The idea that COVID-19 is sparing of young people is just false,” said study co-author Lawrence C Kleinman from Rutgers University in the US.

“While children are more likely to get very sick if they have other chronic conditions, including obesity, it is important to note that children without chronic illness are also at risk. Parents need to continue to take the virus seriously,” Kleinman added.

Recently, another study, published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics, also revealed that gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea, coupled with a fever or history of exposure to COVID-19, could indicate coronavirus infection in children.

Also Read: Do yoga to stay fit: Sandeep Singh

The US currently accounts for the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths at 1,347,388 and 80,397, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University. (IANS)

Next Story

Low Magnitude Earthquakes Are Usual in Delhi: Scientists

Scientists said that 100 such earthquakes have been witnessed in Delhi in last 10 years

0
lava
Delhi has faced 100 such earthquakes in last one decade. Pixabay

By Aakanksha Khajuria

The National Centre of Seismology, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, on Monday sought to assuage the people’s fear regarding frequent earthquakes in the national capital, asserting that tremors between two to three magnitude are usual and have hit the city 100 times in the last ten years.

The clarification came a day after a medium-intensity earthquake of magnitude 3.4 hit the city. Its epicentre was near Wazirpur in the northeast of the capital.

“Delhi has been witnessing earthquakes in the range of two to three magnitude frequently. There is nothing to worry about as they are a normal phenomenon. In the last ten years, the city has been hit by more than 100 earthquakes,” an official from the seismology centre told IANS.

earth-quake
Such Delhi earthquakes are a normal phenomena, scientists said. Pixabay

Clearing the air, the founder of Live Weather of India also asserted that Delhi and its surrounding regions have always remained home to small quakes. “We just keep on releasing pressure from time to time with minor quakes,” Navdeep Dahiya assured.

Read More: Rural India Setting Example for Others Amid Lockdown

On April 12, an earthquake of magnitude 3.5 had struck the city and tremors were felt in Noida and Ghaziabad as well.

According to data collated from the National Centre of Seismology’s website by Dahiya, the NCR region has been hit by 11 earthquakes between March 23 to May 10. As all these came amidst a nation-wide lockdown, they added more to worries of the people. (IANS)