Gene discovery holds key to growing crops in cold climates

Sep 09, 2010

Fresh insight into how plants slow their growth in cold weather could help scientists develop crops suited to cooler environments.

Researchers have shown for the first time that a gene - known as Spatula - limits the growth of plants in cool temperatures, possibly helping them adjust to cool conditions.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who took part in the study, believe that by manipulating the gene, they could produce the opposite effect - enabling development of crops that grow well in cold climates.

Scientists studied the Spatula gene in a weed known as thale cress and found that when levels of the gene were low, the plant leaves grew almost twice as much at lower temperatures as they would normally.

Being able to improve crop growth under cool conditions - in which growth would typically be slow - could help ensure the availability of food supplies for future populations.

The study, carried out by the Universities of Edinburgh and York, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Royal Society, was published in .

Dr Karen Halliday of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who took part in the study, said: "We have pinpointed a key gene linked to the growth of according to the temperature - this could be of real interest in improving and in temperate climates."

Explore further: Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

Provided by University of Edinburgh

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Flowering and freezing tolerance linked in wheat, study shows

Jun 30, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research by UC Davis wheat geneticist Jorge Dubcovsky and his colleagues could lead to new strategies for improving freezing tolerance in wheat, which provides more than one-fifth of the calories consumed ...

Clock-work plants

Jul 22, 2005

Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that the biological clock in plants increases photosynthesis, helping them grow faster. The biological clock, which allows individual plant cells to estimate the time of day, ...

Scientists show that plants have measure of the shortest day

Dec 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- It is not only people who feel the effects of short winter days - new research by the University of Edinburgh and the University of Warwick has shed light on how plants calculate their own winter solstice. ...

Growing crops to cope with climate change

Jan 19, 2006

Scientists at a British plant science center say they've found a gene that might help develop crops better able to cope with the changing world climate.

Recommended for you

Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

Nov 21, 2014

Worldwide, drought conditions, extreme temperatures, and high soil saline content all have negative effects on tomato crops. These natural processes reduce soil nutrient content and lifespan, result in reduced plant growth ...

Plant immunity comes at a price

Nov 21, 2014

Plants are under permanent attack by a multitude of pathogens. To win the battle against fungi, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, they have developed a complex and effective immune system. And just as ...

Evolution: The genetic connivances of digits and genitals

Nov 20, 2014

During the development of mammals, the growth and organization of digits are orchestrated by Hox genes, which are activated very early in precise regions of the embryo. These "architect genes" are themselves regulated by ...

Surrogate sushi: Japan biotech for bluefin tuna

Nov 20, 2014

Of all the overfished fish in the seas, luscious, fatty bluefin tuna are among the most threatened. Marine scientist Goro Yamazaki, who is known in this seaside community as "Young Mr. Fish," is working to ...

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.