Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Plants Manage Calcium May Reduce Effects Of Acid Rain

Date:
March 11, 2007
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
A new understanding of how plants manage their internal calcium levels could lead to modifying plants to avoid damage from acid rain. The pollutant disrupts calcium balance in plants by leaching significant amounts of the mineral from leaves as well as the agricultural and forest soils the plants live in.

Scientists studying how plants manage calcium may find a solution to the damaging effects of acid rain, which harms sugar maples in the northeast.
Credit: Morguefile

A new understanding of how plants manage their internal calcium levels could lead to modifying plants to avoid damage from acid rain. The pollutant disrupts calcium balance in plants by leaching significant amounts of the mineral from leaves as well as the agricultural and forest soils the plants live in.

"Our findings should help scientists understand how plant ecosystems respond to soil calcium depletion and to design appropriate strategies to protect the environment," said Zhen-Ming Pei, a Duke University biologist who led the study, which is published in the journal Science."

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Xiamen University in China.

To grow, a plant needs a reliable supply of calcium, which enters the plant dissolved in water the roots take in from surrounding soil. As the water circulates through a plant, dissolved calcium gets shuttled where it is needed to give the plant's cells their structural rigidity. But calcium supplies coming into the plant cycle up and down over the course of the day, dropping to a minimum at night.

"Calcium is a key regulator of vital physiological functions in both plants and animals," said Maryanna Henkart, director of NSF's Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences. "The discovery of the relationship between calcium in soil, in plant cells, and cellular mechanisms sheds new light on the role of this important mineral in plant growth and development."

Plants use molecular sensors and flows of chemical messengers to detect and regulate the storage and distribution of vital nutrients such as water and calcium. To track the calcium sensors in the laboratory plant Arabidopsis, Pei and his coworkers used molecules originally found in jellyfish that emit light in the presence of calcium. To deduce the calcium sensor's role, the researchers also introduced an altered version of the sensor protein that abolishes the sensor's effects.

According to Pei, the sensors try to detect how much calcium there is and coordinate that level with growth and development. "If the sensors detect there is not enough calcium, they may tell the plant to hold off on growing, at least until it gets more calcium."

Although acid rain robs soil of much of its calcium, enough is still left for plants to live on, Pei added. But he suspects that sensors may misinterpret "less" as "too little" in those plants and unnecessarily signal for growth shutdowns.

"Some soils have lost as much as 75 percent of their calcium during the past century," Pei said. "One way to respond is to add new calcium to the soil. But we can't do that everywhere that it's needed, and it is also expensive. Perhaps a plant's calcium sensors could instead be tricked into interpreting "less" as "still enough" and keep building new cell walls."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "How Plants Manage Calcium May Reduce Effects Of Acid Rain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070309103106.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2007, March 11). How Plants Manage Calcium May Reduce Effects Of Acid Rain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070309103106.htm
National Science Foundation. "How Plants Manage Calcium May Reduce Effects Of Acid Rain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070309103106.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Halliburton's agreement to pay more than $1 billion to settle numerous claims involving the 2010 BP oil spill could be a way to diminish years of costly litigation. A federal judge still has to approve the settlement. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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