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: Researchers identify protein capable of neutralizing antibiotic-resistant bacterial cells

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 identify new mechanism to aid cells under stress

Jan 26, 2015

A team of biologists from NYU and Harvard has identified new details in a cellular mechanism that serves as a defense against stress. The findings potentially offer insights into tumor progression and neurodegenerative diseases, ...

Researchers image and measure tubulin transport in cilia

Jan 26, 2015

Defective cilia can lead to a host of diseases and conditions in the human body—from rare, inherited bone malformations to blindness, male infertility, kidney disease and obesity. Scientists knew that somehow ...

Researchers find unusually elastic protein

Jan 26, 2015

Scientists at Heidelberg University have discovered an unusually elastic protein in one of the most ancient groups of animals, the over 600-million-year-old cnidarians. The protein is a part of the "weapons system" that the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.