Zeatin is a plant growth hormone in the cytokinin family. It consists of a purine ring structure with a side chain that contains hydroxyl, amino, and olefin groups. It was discovered in the corn genus Zea, for which it is named.
Zeatin and other cytokinins are produced in plants’ root systems. How they signal the plant to grow shoots has been discovered only recently. C.-J. Liu and co-workers at Brookhaven National Laboratory identified a transport protein that relays growth messages from zeatin in the roots to the upper parts of the plant. This finding may help researchers improve crop yields and reduce the need for fertilizers.
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