How Gibberellin Regulates Plant Growth

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What are Gibberellins?

  • Gibberellins are one of five plant hormones recognized by botanists. This phytohormone was discovered in the 1920s by Japanese biologists studying rice plants. The scientists thought the plants were infected with some sort of disease that made them grow so tall that their stems could not support them. What they discovered instead was that this extraordinary growth was caused by a substance produced by the fungus Gibberella fukuroj. This growth-inducing substance was then named gibberellin. It was later found that plants themselves produce small quantities of gibberellin, which stimulated elongation growth.

How Gibberellins Work

  • Gibberellins work by promoting uniform growth through cell enlargement, causing plants to grow tall and elongated, with light green leaves. They also stimulate seed germination and other growth phenomena such as early flower formation. In some plants, gibberellins also can modify the flower sex expression. Low levels of gibberellins will prevent plants from reaching their natural height.

Commercial Use of Gibberellins

  • There are about 100 different gibberellins, but gibberellic acid (GA3) is the most commonly used form for commercial applications. Gibberellic acid is used to treat the seeds of some food crops because it triggers them to break dormancy. This results in the uniform germination of the seeds.

    Another commercial use for gibberellins is to apply them to crops to produce seedless fruits. An example of this is the seedless grape. Gibberellin application allows the fruit to fully mature to a bigger size than it would without it.

    Beer makers also use Gibberellin to increase the amount of sugar produced in the malting process. This results in a higher alcohol content.

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