New Breakthrough in Global Warming Plant Production

Mar 30, 2009
Arabidopsis thaliana plants grown at 22oC (left) and 28oC (right).

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.

Dr Kerry Franklin, from the University of Leicester Department of Biology led the study which has identified a single gene responsible for controlling plant growth responses to elevated temperature.

Dr Franklin said: “Exposure of plants to high temperature results in the rapid elongation of stems and a dramatic upwards elevation of leaves”.

“These responses are accompanied by a significant reduction in plant biomass, thereby severely reducing harvest yield.  Our study has revealed that a single gene product regulates all these architectural adaptations in the model plant species, .”

The work has been published in and was funded by the Royal Society and the BBSRC.

Dr Franklin added: “This study provides the first major advance in understanding how plants regulate growth responses to elevated temperature at the molecular level. This discovery will prove fundamental in understanding the effects of global climate change on crop productivity”.

“Identification of the mechanisms by which plants sense changes in ambient temperature remains a Holy Grail in plant biology research. Although the identity of such ‘temperature sensors’ remains elusive, the discovery of a key downstream regulator brings us closer to addressing this important question.”

The study has shown that mutant plants, deficient in the regulatory protein PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4) do not display the dramatic stem elongation and leaf elevation responses observed in wild type plants upon exposure to elevated temperature. The study has further shown PIF4 to regulate a pathway involving the plant hormone auxin. The PIF4 gene product was previously identified as a co-regulator of light-mediated elongation growth, suggesting plants integrate light and temperature signalling pathways through converged regulation of the same target proteins.

Provided by University of Leicester

Explore further: Alternate mechanism of species formation picks up support, thanks to a South American ant

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Molecular basis and regulation of circadian rhythms in plants

Jul 01, 2008

Dr. C. Robertson McClung and his colleagues are investigating the genetic basis and molecular mechanisms of circadian cycling and regulation in plants. Dr. McClung, of the Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, ...

Circadian clock controls plant growth hormone

Aug 13, 2007

The plant growth hormone auxin is controlled by circadian rhythms within the plant, UC Davis researchers have found. The discovery explains how plants can time their growth to take advantage of resources such ...

Biologists solve plant hormone enigma

Jul 06, 2006

Gardeners and farmers have used the plant hormone auxin for decades and now U.S. scientists have found how plants produce and distribute the hormone.

Plant gene for water efficiency found

Jul 11, 2005

ANU researchers have identified a gene that regulates the water efficiency of plants, the first to be discovered that mediates the process critical to plant survival, crop yield and vegetation dynamics. Dr Josette Masle, fro ...

Recommended for you

Calcium and reproduction go together

6 hours ago

Everyone's heard of the birds and the bees. But that old expression leaves out the flowers that are being fertilized. The fertilization process for flowering plants is particularly complex and requires extensive communication ...

User comments : 8

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_Kob
2.3 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2009
We could always just turn up the air-con if it gets too hot..
Husky
4 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2009
How temperature -> water evaporation rate and that all the growth blocking/stimulating hormones/proteines are already in place but that some dissolve better in water and thus getting transported easier, depending on osmosispressure as consequence of the evaporationrate, iow there would not need be a mechanism to suddenly produce a stressresponsive protein, rather temperature tips the balance of competing proteing...just a thought
Husky
1 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2009
i wonder if DMSO (a substance wich is used for instance in testerone patches to make it permeate throught the human skin) could be a usefull topical appliance/spray on leaves/fruits for plant in hotter climates to bypass the temperature regulated stem transport system and thus be able to administre growthhormones with it directly on places where higly valuable fruit or biomass favourable for biofuel is groen...
ITFarmer
5 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2009
I am a bit suprised about this article. I have been growing tomatoes for a few years now, and it is pretty common knowledge (for gardeners) that if plants are too warm when they are seedlings, they become "spiny". This is not a good quality, and is similar to children being "spoiled". When the plants are spiny they do not grow well in adverse conditions, and tend to die off, or become poor producing plants.
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (2) Mar 30, 2009
more NEWS that isn't news to anyone but the guy writing the article and physorg

amazing, aint it?
latersville
not rated yet Mar 30, 2009
It's news to me. I enjoy learning the scientific information Physorg presents.
pseudophonist
not rated yet Mar 31, 2009
So if this gene causes the plant to be come spiney and not grow well, why did it evolve? Is it just a quirk or is there some benefit that we're missing. What happens when we switch it off?

This research does raise some interesting questions suggesting further study, with rather far reaching implications. Sounds like News to me. Kudos to the researchers at University of Leicester and Oxford
DozerIAm
not rated yet Apr 01, 2009
So if this gene causes the plant to be come spiney and not grow well, why did it evolve? Is it just a quirk or is there some benefit that we're missing.

The action of the gene probably improves the plant's viability. Yield isn't important to the plant - only to the planter.