Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unlocking the secrets of a plant’s light sensitivity

14.12.2010
Plants are very sensitive to light conditions because light is their source of energy and also a signal that activates the special photoreceptors that regulate growth, metabolism, and physiological development.

Scientists believe that these light signals control plant growth and development by activating or inhibiting plant hormones. New research from Carnegie plant biologists has altered the prevailing theory on how light signals and hormones interact. Their findings could have implications for food crop production.

It was previously known that a plant hormone called brassinosteroid is essential for plant's responses to light signals. This crucial steroid-type hormone is found throughout the plant kingdom and regulates many aspects of growth and development. Surprising new research from a team led by Carnegie plant biologist Zhi-Yong Wang shows that light does not control the level of brassinosteroid found in plants as was expected. Instead brassinosteroid dictates the light-sensitivity of the plant. It does this by controlling the production of a key light-responsive protein.

The team's findings on interactions between brassinosteroid and light in sprouting seedlings have changed the prevailing model for understanding the relationship between light conditions and hormone signals in regulating photosynthesis and growth. Their results are published in Developmental Cell on December 14.

While under the soil's surface, in the dark, plant seedlings grow in a special way that speeds the process of pushing the budding stem out into the air, while simultaneously protecting it from damage. This type of growth is called skotomorphogenesis. Once exposed to light, seedlings switch to a different, more regular, type of growth, called photomorphogenesis, during which the lengthening of the stem is inhibited and the leaves expand and turn green.

Many components are involved in this developmental switch, including brassinosteroid. Previous studies showed that mutant plants created to be deficient in brassinosteroid grew as if they were in the light, even when in the dark. Research also showed that many genes responded to stimulation from light and brassinosteroid in opposite ways. But scientists were unsure how this antagonistic process worked, especially after they found the levels of brassinosteroid in plant cells were not significantly different between plants grown in the dark or in the light.

The Carnegie team's new research identifies a protein called GATA2 as a missing link in this communications system. This protein tells developing seedlings which type of growth to pursue.

GATA2 is part of the GATA factor class of proteins, which are found in plants, fungi and many animals. GATA factors promote the construction of a variety of new proteins, the recipes for which are encoded in DNA. It does this by switching on and off different genes. In Arabidopsis, the experimental mustard plant used in this study, there are 29 genes for different members of the GATA factor family. Some of these have been demonstrated to play a role in flower development, the metabolism of carbon and nitrogen, and the production of the green pigment chlorophyll.

Wang's team found that GATA2 switches on many genes that are turned on by light but turned off by brassinosteroid. It then showed that brassinosteroid inhibits the production of GATA2 and light stabilizes the presence of GATA2 protein in plant cells.

First, the team showed that GATA2 functions to turn on select plant growth genes in the presence of light. The scientists genetically manipulated Arabidopsis plants to cause the GATA2 protein to be overproduced. As a result, the plants started to show patterns of growing in light, even when they were in the dark. This manipulation demonstrates that GATA2 is a major promoter of light-type growth.

What's more, this is the same reaction that was produced when plants were genetically manipulated to be brassinosteroid-deficient. This means that the over abundance of GATA2 had the same result as the scarcity of brassinosteroids. These results show that GATA2 proteins and brassinosteroid hormones have antagonistic effects on developing plants.

Next, the Carnegie team showed that brassinosteroid is actually involved in inhibiting the actions of GATA2. Brassinosteroids turn on a protein that prevents GATA2 from working when the seedling is in the dark. This inhibition of GATA2 is stopped by exposure to light. This likely happens due to the involvement of yet another protein—one that is widely involved in light-signaling— although further study is needed to be sure.

Together all these results show that GATA2 is an important factor in signaling light-type growth. It also serves as a communications junction between internal plant systems that are turned on by light and those that are turned on by brassinosteroids.

"Brassinosteroids and light antagonistically regulate the level of GATA2 activity, and thus the creation of proteins stimulated by GATA2," says Wang. "As a result, GATA2 represents a key junction of crosstalk between brassinosteroid and light signaling pathways."

The framework created by this research leaves plenty of avenues for further study of the various components of light signaling in plants. Some other members of the GATA class of proteins may be involved, as well as other light-responsive compounds.

The Carnegie Institution for Science (carnegiescience.edu) is a private, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with six research departments throughout the U.S. Since its founding in 1902, the Carnegie Institution has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology, developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology, and Earth and planetary science.

Zhi-Yong Wang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>