Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plant Respiration Not Just An Evolutionary Leftover, Study Shows

Date:
July 26, 2004
Source:
University Of California - Davis
Summary:
A biological process in plants, thought to be useless and even wasteful, has significant benefits and should not be engineered out -- particularly in the face of looming climate change, says a team of UC Davis researchers.

A biological process in plants, thought to be useless and even wasteful, has significant benefits and should not be engineered out -- particularly in the face of looming climate change, says a team of UC Davis researchers.

Related Articles


The researchers have found that the process, photorespiration, is necessary for healthy plant growth and if impaired could inhibit plant growth, particularly as atmospheric carbon dioxide rises as it is globally. Their findings are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Over the past two hundred years, scientists have come to understand that plants are amazing biochemical factories that harness energy from sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars that fuel the plant, while giving off oxygen.

Though elegantly simple in concept, this process, known as photosynthesis, is remarkably complex in detail. And for years, researchers have been puzzled by another process, photorespiration, which seems to have annoyingly associated with photosynthesis down the evolutionary pathway.

Photorespiration has appeared to be downright wasteful because it virtually undoes much of the work of photosynthesis by converting sugars in the plant back into carbon dioxide, water and energy.

Believing that photorespiration is a consequence of the higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide in long past ages, many scientists concluded that photorespiration is no longer necessary. Some have even set about to genetically engineer crop plants so that the activity of the enzyme that initiates both the light-independent reactions of photosynthesis and photorespiration would favor photosynthesis to a greater extent and minimize photorespiration.

The result, they have thought, would be more productive crop plants that make more efficient use of available resources.

But the new UC Davis study suggests that there is more to photorespiration than meets the eye and any attempts to minimize its activity in crop plants would be ill advised.

"Photorespiration is a mysterious process that under present condition dissipates about 25 percent of the energy that a plant captures during photosynthesis," said Arnold Bloom, a professor in UC Davis' vegetable crops department and lead researcher on the study. "But our research has shown that photorespiration enables the plant to take inorganic nitrogen in the form of nitrate and convert it into a form that is useful for plant growth."

The UC Davis team used two different methods to demonstrate in both wheat and Arabidopsis, a common research plant, that when plants are exposed to elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide or low levels of oxygen -- both conditions that inhibit photorespiration -- nitrate assimilation in the plant's shoot slows down. Eventually, a shortage of nitrogen will curtail the plant's growth.

"This explains why many plants are unable to sustain rapid growth when there is a significant increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide," said Bloom. "And, as we anticipate a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide associated with global climate change by the end of this century, our results suggest that it would not be wise to decrease photorespiration in crop plants."

The UC Davis study was supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund fellowship.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Davis. "Plant Respiration Not Just An Evolutionary Leftover, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040723093305.htm>.
University Of California - Davis. (2004, July 26). Plant Respiration Not Just An Evolutionary Leftover, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040723093305.htm
University Of California - Davis. "Plant Respiration Not Just An Evolutionary Leftover, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040723093305.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins