Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Salk Scientists Identify Pathway That Determines When Plants Flower

02.07.2003


Salk scientists have defined a new pathway that controls how plants flower in response to shaded, crowded conditions, and their findings may have implications for increasing yield in crops ranging from rice to wheat.


Joanne Chory



The study, published in the June 19 issue of Nature, was led by Salk professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Joanne Chory and Salk/Howard Hughes Medical Institute postdoctoral fellow Pablo Cerdán. "The mechanism that leads to plants flowering early in response to shaded conditions has largely been unknown," said Chory. "And this is a major problem for crops, which are planted at high density and often shade each other in the field. By understanding this process, we may someday be able to control plant flowering responses to shade and, in turn, increase the yield of crops."

The Salk researchers focused on what is known in plants as the "shade-avoidance syndrome." When plants grow in high density, they perceive a decrease in the relative amounts of incoming red light to light of other wavelengths. This change of light serves as a warning for competition, prodding the plants to flower and create seeds. The byproduct of this process is that plant stems grow longer and leaf volume declines, leading to decreases in biomass and yield.


To understand the biology behind this process, the Salk scientists looked at a group of phytochromes, photoreceptors in plants that trigger the "shade-avoidance response." Using the common mustard seed plant Arabidopsis-the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced by a multinational consortium that involved Salk professor Joe Ecker and other researchers-Chory and Cerdán identified the specific protein that triggers flowering in response to suboptimal light conditions.

"We screened for mutant versions of Arabidopsis to identify the protein and the signaling pathway that leads to flowering in shade conditions," said Cerdán. "We discovered that the protein, called PFT1, acts downstream from a specific phytochrome, phyB, to begin this process."

Phytochromes have been studied by plant biologists for 50 years, and yet the complex pathways that lead to flowering are still not fully understood. "Even though the pathways that induce flowering are some of the best studied in plants, there still are a lot of new players to be identified," said Chory.

The researchers are encouraged by the implications of their initial findings. "In agriculture, it’s all about yield," said Chory. "Flowering time pathways in Arabidopsis have a great degree of similarity to rice, and we hope that this research will ultimately have applications for improving the yield of rice and other crops.

"There are more than 800 million people in the world who are chronically malnourished, and discovering new methods to increase crop yield is crucial to addressing world hunger," she said.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, located in La Jolla, Calif., is an independent nonprofit dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health and conditions, and the training of future generations of researchers. The institute was founded in 1960 by Jonas Salk, M.D., with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.

Robert Bradford | Salk Institute
Further information:
http://www.salk.edu/news/releases/details.php?id=71

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>