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, helps boost global productivity by providing cells with the facility to anticipate daily changes in the environment.

The findings were published in the scientific journal Science on Friday 22 July by a team of researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Warwick, in association with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Using the model experimental plant Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress), the researchers measured growth and photosynthesis parameters in plants with a naturally occurring clock, plants where the biological clock ran fast or slow compared to the usual 24 hour rhythm, and plants where the clock had been stopped.

“Photosynthesis is the basis of virtually all life on the planet, and our experiments have demonstrated that the clock is an integral part of that. Therefore, the plant clock may play a vital role in ecosystem productivity and control of atmospheric CO2 (a key greenhouse gas),” said Dr Antony Dodd from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study.

“We have shown that selective crop breeding to increase agricultural output must be conducted carefully, since inadvertent alterations to the clock can severely reduce productivity.”

For example, food production in space could require growth of plants under non-24 hour light dark cycles (eg planets that rotate with periods other than 24 hour). These findings indicate that agricultural output under these circumstances will be enhanced by alteration of the clock to match local day-length conditions.

“Building on this knowledge, we now need to understand the detailed mechanisms by which the clock controls and optimizes photosynthesis,” said Dr Dodd.

Source: University of Cambridge

Explore further: Greenland darkening to continue, predicts CCNY expert Marco Tedesco

Related Stories

Drought damage leads to widespread forest death

Mar 30, 2015

The 2000-2003 drought in the American southwest triggered a widespread die-off of forests around the region. A Carnegie-led team of scientists developed a new modeling tool to explain how and where trembling ...

Recommended for you

Devices or divisive: Mobile technology in the classroom

11 hours ago

Little is known about how new mobile technologies affect students' development of non-cognitive skills such as empathy, self-control, problem solving, and teamwork. Two Boston College researchers say it's ...

Forming school networks to educate 'the new mainstream'

17 hours ago

As immigration increases the number of non-English speaking "culturally and linguistically diverse" students, schools will need to band together in networks focused on the challenges of educating what has been called "the ...

Rare tidal movements expose Kimberley dinosaur tracks

17 hours ago

While audiences in Perth attend Walking with Dinosaurs this weekend palaeontologists working near Broome will be documenting the extinct vertebrates' extensive fossilised footsteps using laser scanning technology.

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.