How plants see light

How plants see light
Thale cress plant. Credit: Thomas Kunz

Plants react sensitively to changes in their surroundings and possess the ability to adapt to them. They use the photoreceptor protein phytochrome B to see light and then regulate processes such as seed germination, seedling development, longitudinal growth and flower formation. A team led by Prof. Dr. Andreas Hiltbrunner from the Institute of Biology II at the University of Freiburg has recently conducted a study that shows that both proteins PCH1 and PCHL influence this receptors' photosensitivity. The researchers recently published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Phytochrome B measures the light spectrum, which varies depending on the surroundings. The works like a kind of switch: the bright red light of sunlight activates phytochrome B, while it is inactivated by far-red light which is abundant in canopy shade. However, it can also switch from the active form to the inactive ground state independently of light. You would call this process dark reversion. It influences the amount of protein available in the active state, thereby affecting the plant's perception.

In their study, the scientists determined that there are two proteins in the thale cress plant, PCH1 and PCHL, which bind to phytochrome B and influence the activity of the receptor. Using a special method of spectroscopy, the researchers showed that the dark reversion of phytochrome B is almost completely suppressed when the amount of PCH1 or PCHL is increased, while the process is accelerated when PCH1 and PCHL are missing. By allowing the plants to regulate the change from the active to the inactive state, they can adapt the photosensitivity of the B photoreceptor to different conditions.


Explore further

Mutant plants reveal temperature sensor

More information: Beatrix Enderle et al. PCH1 and PCHL promote photomorphogenesis in plants by controlling phytochrome B dark reversion, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02311-8
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: How plants see light (2018, January 19) retrieved 21 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-how-plants-see-light.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
12 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

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