Team discovers how plants avoid sunburn

Aug 06, 2013

A Dartmouth-led team has discovered a group of stress-related proteins that explains how plants avoid sunburn in intense light, a finding that one day could help biotechnologists to develop crops that can better cope with hotter, drier conditions occurring in climate change.

Their findings appear this week in the journal PNAS. The study, titled "Subset of transcription factors required for the early response of Arabidopsis to excess light," was led by researchers from Dartmouth, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Australian National University.

Too much or too little sunlight or rapidly fluctuating light conditions cause stress to plants, which have sophisticated control systems to utilize light energy for photosynthesis and simultaneously protect themselves from sunburn from very bright sunlight. Plants perform these regulations mainly by regulating nuclear and multiple intracellular signaling pathways have been shown to play a role in the genomic response of plants to stress, but the processes are not well understood.

In this study, Professor Hou-Sung Jung and his colleagues showed that a group of transcription factors called Heat Shock Transcription Factors are responsible for fast responses of plants to changes in —from light conditions that are optimal for photosynthesis to bright light that causes sunburn. The , which are proteins that control the flow of genetic information, generate an enzyme responsible for detoxifying harmful molecules, which accumulate under very bright light.

Currently in his laboratory, Jung is characterizing factors involved in plants' responses to prolonged bright light. Studying these short-term and long-term response factors may make it possible to generate plants with increased protection from bright light with enhanced photosynthesis rates.

Explore further: Illuminating the dark side of the genome

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Plants communicate what type of light they want

Apr 08, 2013

Enormous amounts of energy are wasted in greenhouses where our food is grown as a result of the plants receiving too much and the wrong kind of light. This can also stress and damage the plants. Researchers ...

KISS ME DEADLY proteins may help improve crop yields

May 27, 2013

Dartmouth College researchers have identified a new regulator for plant hormone signaling—the KISS ME DEADLY family of proteins (KMDs) – that may help to improve production of fruits, vegetables and grains.

Uncovering quantum secret in photosynthesis

Jun 20, 2013

The efficient conversion of sunlight into useful energy is one of the challenges which stand in the way of meeting the world's increasing energy demand in a clean, sustainable way without relying on fossil ...

Recommended for you

Researchers uncover secrets of internal cell fine-tuning

8 hours ago

New research from scientists at the University of Kent has shown for the first time how the structures inside cells are regulated – a breakthrough that could have a major impact on cancer therapy development.

Microscopic rowing—without a cox

9 hours ago

Many different types of cell, including sperm, bacteria and algae, propel themselves using whip-like appendages known as flagella. These protrusions, about one-hundredth of a millimetre long, function like ...

Illuminating the dark side of the genome

15 hours ago

Almost 50 percent of our genome is made up of highly repetitive DNA, which makes it very difficult to be analysed. In fact, repeats are discarded in most genome-wide studies and thus, insights into this part ...

User comments : 0