While not immune to changing climate, plants respond to the rising mercury in different ways. Temperature affects the distribution of plants around the planet. It also affects the flowering time, crop yield, and even resistance to disease.
"It is important to understand how plants respond to temperature to predict not only future food availability but also develop new technologies to help plants cope with increasing temperature," said Meng Chen, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology at the University of California, Riverside.
Scientists - Plants - Temperature - Day - Mechanism
Scientists are keenly interested in figuring out how plants experience temperature during the day, but until recently this mechanism has remained elusive. Chen is leading a team to explore the role of phytochrome B, a molecular signaling pathway that may play a pivotal role in how plants respond to temperature.
In a paper published in Nature Communications, Chen and colleagues at UCR describe the genetic triggers that prepare plants for growth under different temperature conditions using the model plant, Arabidopsis.
Plants - Clock - Seasons - Plant - Processes
Plants grow following the circadian clock, which is controlled by the seasons. All of a plant's physiological processes are partitioned to occur at specific times of day.
According to Chen, the longstanding theory held that Arabidopsis senses an increase in temperature during the evening. In a natural situation, Arabidopsis, a winter plant, would probably never see higher temperature at night.
Chen - Author - Paper - Understanding - Phytochrome
"This has always been puzzling to us," said Chen, senior author on the paper. "Our understanding of the phytochrome signaling pathway is that it should also sense temperature during the daytime, when the plant would actually encounter higher temperature."
In fact, Arabidopsis grows at different times of day as the seasons change. In the summer, the plant grows during the day, but during the winter it grows at night. Previous experiments that mimicked winter conditions showed a dramatic response in phytochrome B, but experiments that mimicked...
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