The new study, from researchers at University of Illinois, appears this month in Plant Physiology Preview.
Miscanthus x giganteus is one of the most productive grasses known. It is able to capture the sun’s energy even as cool temperatures shut down photosynthesis in other plants. In Illinois, green Miscanthus leaves emerge up to six weeks before corn can be planted. Miscanthus thrives into October, while corn leaves wither in late August.
Corn and Miscanthus are C4 plants, which are more efficient than C3 plants in converting sunlight into leaves and stalks. (C3 and C4 simply refer to the number of carbon atoms in a molecule critical to photosynthesis.)
“The C4 process differs from C3 in having just four extra steps in its metabolism,” said Stephen Long, a professor of crop sciences and principal investigator on the study. “There are four extra proteins in this process, so we assumed that these proteins are related to low temperature tolerance.”When they compared the levels of these proteins in plants grown in warm and cold conditions, the researchers noticed that one of the proteins, pyruvate phosphate dikinase (PPDK), was present at much higher levels in the Miscanthus leaves grown at cool temperatures than in the leaves of either corn or Miscanthus grown in warmer conditions.
The increase corresponded to the upsurge in PPDK in its leaves.
“After seven days PPDK was 10 times the level it was in the warm conditions,” Long said.
In C4 plants, PPDK catalyzes a chemical reaction in the leaf critical to the cascade of reactions that convert carbon from carbon dioxide into starches that form the plant’s tissues.
Previous studies had shown that PPDK is generally not very stable in cold conditions. The protein is made up of four subunits, which tend to come apart at low temperatures, Long said.
To test how cold temperatures affect the protein when it is expressed in cells at high concentrations, post-doctoral fellow Dafu Wang cloned the PPDK gene into E. coli bacteria to produce large quantities of the protein.
“What he showed in the test tube was that if you concentrate the protein, then it becomes more resistant to cold,” Long said. “At higher concentration the protein creates its own microenvironment where in the cold it doesn’t come apart. This appears to be the secret of success for Miscanthus at low temperature: Expressing more of the protein allows it to photosynthesize at low temperature where corn can’t.”
The next step for the researchers is to develop a corn plant in which this gene is expressed at high levels to determine if that will make the corn more tolerant of low temperatures, Long said. Cold weather after emergence of corn in the spring or in late summer during grain-filling can limit photosynthesis, he said.
“This change should make corn more resistant to these cold weather events.”
The National Science Foundation supported this research. The research team is also affiliated with the Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois and the USDA.Editor’s note:
Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Combination of Resistance Genes Offers Better Protection for Wheat against Powdery Mildew
22.01.2018 | Universität Zürich
New study shows producers where and how to grow cellulosic biofuel crops
17.01.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences