Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stress test for fir trees

09.04.2014

Terahertz rays can be used to determine the change in water content of leaves without destroying them.

 This is being demonstrated in a recent publication by biologists and physicists from Marburg that appears in a special issue of the journal "Plant Physiology”. Reduced water content leads to increased permeability of the leaves for terahertz waves, the authors say. Thanks to the new method, researchers can measure stress responses in many individual plants over long periods of time.


Caption: David Behringer (left) and Norman Born adjust the measuring system.

(Photo: Philipps-Universität/Ralf Gente)

Global climate change is expected to cause extreme weather conditions – like distinct periods of drought – in the Mediterranean and Central Europe in the future. "Most tree species are very sensitive to drought stress which is caused by lack of water", David Behringer explains; the biologist from Marburg is co-author of the current publication.

To estimate the survival chances of plants under different environmental conditions one has to know the genetic and physiological background of drought stress tolerance in different plants as precisely as possible.

"So far, no methods for the specific investigation of stress responses of plants have been available", adds Professor Dr. Birgit Ziegenhagen, head of conservation biology at the university of Marburg and co-author of the study. "Common measurement methods assess the drought stress either through indirect processes or the measurement leads to the destruction of the plant material."

Therefore, the scientists used terahertz rays – electromagnetic waves in the spectrum between microwaves and infrared light. The biologists in Ziegenhagen’s group used the expertise of their colleagues from the Department of Experimental Semiconductor Physics. "It has been shown that terahertz waves are absorbed almost completely by water while they pass through many solids freely", Professor Dr. Martin Koch explains. The physicist is also involved in the current publication.

Researchers took advantage from another characteristic of terahertz waves, as co-author Norman Born from Koch's working group says: "Since terahertz waves have a much shorter wavelength than microwave radiation, it is possible to measure the thin needles of fir trees."

The authors tested their method on a species of fir trees because conifers with their little leaf surfaces are particularly difficult to study by conventional methods.

For the first time, the researchers from Marburg monitored a great number of plant seedlings over a period of several weeks with the new technique; by doing so, the group has been able to observe, compare and evaluate stress reactions directly. The researchers irradiated a number of plantlets repeatedly by terahertz waves, so that they were able to record the change of water content in the needles accurately and in real time. This was only possible by using the special design of the terahertz spectrometer which was developed in Marburg.

The non-destructive long-term measurements allow accurate prediction of how long a plant can tolerate drought under certain conditions. "Thanks to the new technology, it is possible to expose plants of different genotypes to the same stress to characterize deviant reaction", says conservation biologist and co-author Dr. Sascha Liepelt. Martin Koch as Head of Experimental Semiconductor Physics is looking forward to the continuation of the research work: The "Johannes Hübner Foundation" will support the ongoing work by a scholarship; it will be used to adapt the system to other plant species and conduct in-depth studies.

Original publication: Norman Born, David Behringer & al.: Monitoring plants drought stress response using terahertz time-domain spectroscopy , Plant Physiology 2014 , pp. 113.233601v1 - 113.233601, DOI : 10.1104/pp.113.233601

For more information:
Contact:
Norman Born,
Subject Experimental Semiconductor Physics
Tel : 06421 28-24156
E -mail : norman.born@physik.uni-marburg.de
Homepage: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb13/forschung/experimentelle-halbleiterphysik/agkoch

David Behringer,
Department of Nature Conservation Biology
Tel : 06421 28-23489
E -mail : david.behringer@biologie.uni-marburg.de
Homepage: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb17/fachgebiete/naturschutz/naturschutzbiologie/

Press release on Forest Ecology Research (in german): http://www.uni-marburg.de/aktuelles/news/2013d/1213b

Johannes Scholten | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton 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: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solar Collectors from Ultra-High Performance Concrete Combine Energy Efficiency and Aesthetics

16.01.2017 | Trade Fair News

3D scans for the automotive industry

16.01.2017 | Automotive Engineering

Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs

16.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>