Gibberellins: What are they, functions and commercial uses

GAs are used to genetically modify plants

As surprising as it may be, plants have their own hormones. These are necessary for its proper development. Among them are gibberellins, mainly responsible for the growth of vegetables.

Apart from their importance for plants, gibberellins also They have several beneficial uses when handling fruits and vegetables. If you want to know more about these plant hormones, read on.


Gibberellins are plant hormones

Gibberellins are plant hormones

For lovers of botany, it will come as no surprise to learn that plants also produce hormones, known as phytohormones. These are molecules that affect the growth, functioning and differentiation of the plant’s body, or of some of its parts. Normally, hormones are produced at low concentrations and thus exert their respective actions. Unlike animals, plants can synthesize hormones in various parts.

There are in total five phytohormones whose influence on the development of plants is of utmost importance:

  1. Auxins
  2. Gibberellins
  3. Cytokinins
  4. Ethylene
  5. Abcisic acid

However, recently other substances have been added to the list of plant hormones. These include jasmonates, brassinosteroids, salicylic acid, and even some peptides. All plant hormones cooperate, the plant cannot survive if one fails. The physiological state of plants is the result of the antagonistic action or cooperation between the phytohormones.

What are gibberellins and what is their function?

Gibberellins are the growth hormones of plants

Gibberellins are plant growth hormones.

As we have already mentioned before, gibberellins, or GAs, are part of the five plant hormones that exist. These specifically are produced in developing seeds, young tissues, fruits and in the apical zone. Gibberellins are basically growth hormones that are involved in various plant development processes. The beginning of its synthesis takes place in the chloroplasts, but the plasma membrane is also a participant. As for the transport of these phytohormones, it takes place in the vascular system. However, everything indicates that some of them have a fairly restricted distribution.

Ethylene is also known as the plant aging hormoneEthylene is also known as the plant aging hormone.

Gibberellins produce effects very similar to auxins, such as increasing the length between nodes of the stems. In the event that these phytohormones were missing, the plants would become dwarfed. What’s more, stimulate flowering, accelerate germination and regulate protein production in the seeds of cereals.

Despite the fact that more than a hundred types of gibberellins are known, only a few of them demonstrate biological activity. The common ones are: GA1, GA3, GA4, GA7 and GA9. Currently, some of them are used for commercial purposes through genetic manipulation of the fruits.

Commercial use

Gibberellins have several commercial applications

Gibberellins have several commercial applications.

With all the advances that we are achieving at a technological and scientific level, it is not surprising that humans have known how to take advantage of gibberellins. Next we are going to comment on some of its commercial uses:

  • Transition from juvenile to adult phase: At a physiological level, it is possible to apply GAs to affect the juvenile condition of the plant, thus being able to pass into the adult phase or vice versa. Juvenile plants are the ones that initiate root formation, which is necessary for vegetative multiplication. However, as adults they lose this property almost completely. By applying gibberellins it is possible to accelerate the entry into flowering without the plants having completed their juvenile phase.
  • Floral initiation and sex determination: The use of GAs can replace certain demands on plants to flourish. For example, they can modify the light or temperature requirement. In addition, they can induce the formation of floral elements and in turn affect sexual determination, allowing us to create male or female flowers. This is very important when it comes to crossing and avoiding self-pollination.
  • Fruit development: Another ability that gibberellins have is to promote fruit development. Its size affects its price and quality. It is even possible to extend the life of the fruits of some citrus fruits, both on the tree and harvested.
  • Parthenocarpy: Parthenocarpy is a process of fruit development without prior seed formation. To achieve this artificially, non-pollinated flowers are treated with gibberellins or other hormones.
  • Biotechnology: GAs are used for the regeneration of plants in vitro. On the one hand, the extracted tissues need this hormone for their development during the first phase. On the other hand, previous treatments with gibberellins can be carried out on mother plants in order to stimulate their growth to favor the extraction of tips free of pathogenic organisms.
  • Yields in sugarcane: Sucrose, or cane sugar, accumulates in the vacuole, so the amount that can be harvested depends on the size of the vacuole. GAs help increase plant height and sucrose content.

As we can see, the applications of gibberellins are many. Thanks to various botanical studies, we have been able to improve the quality of fruits and vegetables in various aspects. Also economically they are a great help for farmers. Still, science continues its investigations. Every day more interesting things are discovered about the world of plants.

Gibberellins: What are they, functions and commercial uses

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