Scientists in Germany and Hebrew University illuminate process in control of flowering in plants

02/12/04

The molecular mechanism plants have adopted to trigger flowering in response to changes in light duration and quality has been demonstrated by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Their recent findings, published in the Feb. 13 edition of Science, have significant consequences for potential control over flowering time of plants and the adaptation of plants for growth under conditions different from their natural habitats.

In many cases, world food production from plants is limited to specific seasons or certain regions of the world. One of the reasons for this are unique precautions each plant species has developed during evolution to commence flowering at the best time suited for its reproduction, based on the microclimate where it has evolved.

The scientists conducted experiments on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (mouse-ear cress) to better understand the mode of regulation of light on flowering time. They demonstrated how day length and light quality, via plant photoreceptors, affect the stability of a floral-promoting protein named constans. These findings help explain the behavior of many plant species which display seasonal, day-length dependant flowering.

Arabidopsis is a small flowering plant that is widely used as a model organism in plant biology. It is the first plant for which the whole genome has been sequenced.

The Hebrew University researcher on the project, Dr. Alon Samach, points out that based on this and prior research, manipulation of flowering time in important crops could be achieved either through introducing genetic changes that would increase or decrease the stability of the floral promoter constans, or in some cases, through simple manipulation of the elements of sunlight reaching plants by using special screening.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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