Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gene interactions control circadian clock in plants, study finds

16.12.2003


David Somers


New research identifies the molecular mechanisms that keep a plant’s circadian clock running on a 24-hour schedule.

The study, reported this week in the journal Nature, is the first to describe the physical connection between two molecular components -– genes called TOC1 and ZTL -- that keep a plant’s “clock” running at the right speed. Scientists have spent more than a decade trying to understand the interactions between the components that regulate a plant’s timing.

Knowing how those components interact might benefit agriculture, as the clock controls activities like flowering time in plants, said David Somers, a study co-author and an assistant professor of plant biology at Ohio State University.



"Understanding how the clock works on the molecular level means that we can begin to understand, and perhaps manipulate, when a plant flowers," he said. "One potential limitation to where plants can grow is day length – some plants need more exposure to light than do others.

"If we could make a plant flower earlier in the growing season – assuming that temperatures were warm enough – we could possibly extend that plant’s range into a region in which it normally had difficulty growing."

Somers conducted the study with Woe-Yoon Kim, a postdoctoral researcher in plant biotechnology at Ohio State, and Paloma Más and Steve Kay, both with the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

The researchers conducted experiments on Arabidopsis thaliana, or thale cress plants. They looked at plants with normal TOC1 and ZTL genes and also at Arabidopsis plants with either a mutant TOC1 or ZTL gene. Observing changes in mutant strains gave the researchers information on each gene’s involvement in regulating the circadian clock.

"We wanted to know what keeps a plant’s circadian clock running at the right speed," Somers said.

A faulty TOC1 gene caused the plants to run on a faster schedule – their circadian clocks had sped up to 20 hours. Conversely, mutations in the ZTL gene slowed the clock down to 27 hours. If both genes were missing entirely, the clock still ran, but at the wrong speed.

The researchers also looked for, and found, a strong physical interaction between TOC1 and ZTL.

"It became clear that ZTL is heavily involved in controlling the level of TOC1 in the plants," Somers said. "ZTL degrades TOC1, and this degradation is vital for normal plant functioning.

"We knew that TOC1 was one of the main components in controlling the clock’s pace," he continued. "Now we know that ZTL indirectly controls the clock’s pace through its effect on TOC1 degradation."

These findings help shed light on mechanisms that have puzzled scientists for years.

"The molecular components of the plant clock aren’t well understood," Somers said. "And, unlike the mammalian circadian clock, a lot of the individual players are still unidentified."

Just as in animals, plants’ circadian clocks are set by light and dark cycles, Somers said. In humans, feeling sleepy close to bedtime is controlled in part by the clock. In plants, the circadian clock controls the production of enzymes and other components involved in photosynthesis.

"If a plant can anticipate sunrise, it can have the necessary photosynthetic compounds prepared in advance," said Somers. "Many of the enzymes and molecular components of photosynthesis have to be re-made daily, as harvesting sunlight and turning it into useful energy is a destructive process.

"It’s to a plant’s advantage to be ready to absorb sunlight when it becomes available."

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.


Contact: David Somers, (614) 292-2551; Somers.24@osu.edu
Written by Holly Wagner, (614) 292-8310; Wagner.235@osu.edu

Holly Wagner | OSU
Further information:
http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/circlock.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht NUI Galway highlights reproductive flexibility in hydractinia, a Galway bay jellyfish
24.02.2020 | National University of Ireland Galway

nachricht Shaping the rings of molecules
24.02.2020 | University of Montreal

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

NUI Galway highlights reproductive flexibility in hydractinia, a Galway bay jellyfish

24.02.2020 | Life Sciences

KIST researchers develop high-capacity EV battery materials that double driving range

24.02.2020 | Materials Sciences

How earthquakes deform gravity

24.02.2020 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>