How plants chill out

May 21, 2012

Plants elongate their stems when grown at high temperature to facilitate the cooling of their leaves, according to new research from the University of Bristol published today in Current Biology. Understanding why plants alter their architecture in response to heat is important as increasing global temperatures pose a threat to future food production.

Although scientists have made significant advances in understanding how plants elongate at high temperature, little is known of the physiological consequences of this response. To investigate these consequences, the researchers, led by Dr Kerry Franklin and Professor Alistair Hetherington in Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, studied thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a small flowering plant which is a popular model species in and genetics.

When grown at higher temperatures, plants have an elongated, spindly architecture and develop fewer leaf pores, known as stomata. However, in spite of having a reduced number of stomata, the elongated Arabidopsis thaliana plants grown by the team displayed greater water loss and leaf evaporative cooling.

The researchers suggest that the increased spacing of leaves observed in high temperature-grown plants may promote the diffusion of water vapour from stomata, thereby enhancing the cooling process.

Dr Franklin said: "Temperature and water availability are major factors affecting plant yield. Understanding the relationship between temperature, plant architecture and water use is therefore essential for maximising future crop production and ensuring food security in a ."

Explore further: New insights into how different tissues establish their biological and functional identities

More information: Crawford AJ, McLachlan, D, Hetherington, AM & Franklin, KA. (2012) 'High Temperature Exposure Increases Plant Cooling Capacity', Current Biology (2012).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Breakthrough: 'Global warming gene'

Nov 29, 2011

The molecular mechanism which makes some plants grow more rapidly when the temperature rises has been identified by researchers at the University of Bristol in a paper published today in Proceedings of th ...

Adjustable valves gave ancient plants the edge

Jun 09, 2011

Controlling water loss is an important ability for modern land plants as it helps them thrive in changing environments. New research from the University of Bristol, published today in the journal Current Biology, shows ...

New Breakthrough in Global Warming Plant Production

Mar 30, 2009

Researchers at the universities of Leicester and Oxford have made a discovery about plant growth which could potentially have an enormous impact on crop production as global warming increases.

On guard against drought

Oct 28, 2011

Identification of a gene that helps plants to conserve water under drought conditions will bring biologists closer to understanding how plants tolerate drought. Researchers, led by Takashi Kuromori at Japan's ...

Recommended for you

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Apr 17, 2014

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...