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 Desert ants cannot be fooled
23.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

nachricht Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water cooling for the Earth's crust

23.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nano-watch has steady hands

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Batteries with better performance and improved safety

23.11.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>