Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Measuring the stress of forested areas

23.07.2008
Plants undergo stress because of lack of water, due to the heat or the cold or to excess of light.

A research team from the University of the Basque Country have analysed the substances that are triggered in plants to protect themselves, with the goal of choosing the species that is best suited to the environment during reforestation under adverse environmental conditions.

Droughts, extreme temperatures, contamination, and so on – all are harmful to plants. On occasions, the damage is caused by humans. For example, as a consequence of cutting down trees, plants used to shady conditions may be exposed to an excess of light. However, in most cases it is nature itself that causes the stress. In spring, plants have sufficient average humidity and temperatures, i.e. what scientists deem ‘optimum conditions’.

But in winter they have to withstand considerable cold and in summer, on the other hand, high temperatures and droughts: adverse environmental factors that generate stress situations. Thus, in winter and in summer, the light which under normal conditions would be a source of energy becomes excessive, given that the metabolism of the plants under these conditions is not able to assimilate it. This process is known as photo-oxidative stress.

... more about:
»Cycle »Energy »conditions »excess »species »substances

Some plants are incapable of withstanding this stress – unable to dissipate the excess energy, generating a chain reaction by which they deteriorate and die. Other species, on the other hand, undergo processes of acclimatising themselves to the new situation and trigger chemical compounds that act to protect them. These species are the object of interest of a research team from the Department of Plant Biology and Ecology at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).

The members of this team – called EKOFISKO and led by Dr. Txema Becerril – are studying the plants’ defence mechanisms in order to predict damage before it is produced. They measure the photo-protector substances created by the plants and analyse their behaviour, using them as biosensors of photo-oxidative stress.

Amongst all these plants, they have been studying trees and other forest species, given that they are long-cycle species and it is important that they acclimatize correctly to the environment before reforestation is embarked upon. The autochthonous species of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (CAPV), especially the southern part thereof, being where the two climatic regions - the Atlantic and the Mediterranean – meet, would be the first to suffer the consequences of climate change. The study mainly involves species with ecological, economic or landscape interest, and analyses both the deciduous species and the perennial varieties; particularly the latter as they withstand the cold winter temperatures without shedding their leaves.

On the trail of the box tree

The box is a model species and a good example for analysing the defence mechanisms of plants: it is capable of withstanding quite different environments (both dry and sunny climes as well as damp and shaded conditions), thanks to its resistance and adaptability. When it is under stress, the leaves go red, as other species do in autumn, but its peculiarity is that it is able to convert its chromoplasts (where the red pigments accumulate) into chloroplasts (with green pigments) and once again capture energy when the stress conditions disappear.

In order to measure the biomarkers of photo-oxidative stress the research team also simulated the winter or summer conditions in the greenhouse and in the growing rooms at the Faculty of Science and Technology, i.e. they artificially induced in the plants the conditions which they would have to be subjected. This makes it possible to isolate each one of the stress agents and to study its consequences, leaving aside the rest of the variables found in nature.

According to what the research team at the UPV/EHU have shown, the secret to being the most adaptable species lies in accumulating antioxidants, such as vitamin E and special carotenoids (carotenes and xantophylls); precisely the substances that provide colour to plants. On receiving too much light, the VAZ cycle is triggered and the balance between three xantophylls (corresponding to these 3 initials) is altered so that the excess energy does not harm the plants.

The human body, for example, is not capable of creating these highly important substances itself and it has to ingest vegetables in order to obtain antioxidants (from plants). Besides studying the VAZ cycle, Mr Txema Becerril’s team has contributed to the discovery of a new cycle (the lutein epoxide cycle), present in many forest species such as beech, laurel, holm oak or oak and the team is currently studying what exactly is its protective function.

Alaitz Ochoa de Eribe | alfa
Further information:
http://www.elhuyar.com
http://www.basqueresearch.com/berria_irakurri.asp?Berri_Kod=1832&hizk=I

Further reports about: Cycle Energy conditions excess species substances

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>