Dartmouth researchers have found evidence of two circadian clocks working within the same tissue of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a flowering plant often used in genetic studies. Their results suggest that plants can integrate information from at least two environmental signals, light and temperature, which is important in order to respond to seasonal changes.
The study, published this week, appears in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Having two clocks with different sensitivities to light and to temperature is a better way to ensure that both signals of environmental input are fully understood by the plant," says C. Robertson McClung, professor of biological sciences and an author on the paper. "The plant can then process the data and make decisions about flowering, which is a very critical decision. Arabidopsis flowers in response to the lengthening days of spring, but if it were to flower too soon and there is a nasty frost, the blossoms will die. Early spring is cool, so it makes sense for a plant to clue in to more than one environmental signal."
Sue Knapp | EurekAlert!
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