Capitalizing on their previous work to decode the genome of the poplar tree, the research team examined how poplar trees use their 45,000 genes to respond to drought.
Campbell and PhD student Olivia Wilkins, the lead researchers, along with researchers Levi Waldron, Hardeep Nahal and Nicholas Provart, had their findings published in the November 13 issue of the Plant Journal. The article is titled "Genotype and time of day shape the Populus drought response."
"Each gene is like a line of code in a computer program" says Campbell, a plant biologist. "Depending on which lines of code are used, the tree can create a different program to respond to environmental stimuli, like drought." The use of different combinations of genes creates different programs. The combination of genes that trees use in response to a stress, like drought, determines whether the tree can survive this stress or not.
In the past, researchers examined drought-responsive gene programs at a single time point – normally in the middle of the day when most researchers work in the lab or the field. Wilkins did her experiments so that she examined the gene programs at multiple times throughout the day and night.
Surprisingly, working together with University of Toronto bioinformaticians, the team found that trees used different drought response gene programs at different times of day. That is, the drought response gene program that the trees used in the middle of the day was different from the program used in the middle of the night.
"Previously, researchers referred to the drought response as though it was a single, simple program that ran all the time," Campbell notes. The new research shows that the story is not that simple. "Rather than one program, trees use multiple programs, each of which runs at a different time of day," says Wilkins.
The discovery that trees use different programs at different times of the day is described as a critical finding. Previous research may have overemphasised the importance of some genes in helping trees to contend with drought, and totally missed others that are important.
The new work provides insights and tools to enable future researchers to identify, conserve and breed trees that are better able to contend with drought. Drought is an increasingly-important malady for forest trees, as it can dramatically reduce forest growth, and, in severe cases, increase forest susceptibility to insect pests and bring about catastrophic forest death. Given the importance of forest trees in vast ecosystems the world over, and as a renewable resource of great economic value, a better understanding of how trees contend with drought can have far-reaching implications for the environment and the economy. The new findings could play a role in safeguarding one of Canada's most important natural resources, our forest trees.
This new University of Toronto research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and is published in one of the top-ranked plant research journals, the Plant Journal. To view the paper online, visit: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122541844/abstract.
Eleni Kanavas | EurekAlert!
Microjet generator for highly viscous fluids
13.02.2018 | Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
Sweet route to greater yields
08.02.2018 | Rothamsted Research
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences
20.02.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering