Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Missing Piece Of Plant Clock Found

Date:
March 19, 2009
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
A newfound molecule links morning and evening components of the plant daily clock, forming a connection long predicted to be an important element of a reliable biological timepiece.

This mustard seedling is stained blue wherever the newly discovered clock protein CHE occurs.
Credit: Jose Pruneda-Paz

Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have identified a key protein that links the morning and evening components of the daily biological clock of plants.

Related Articles


Their discovery, detailed in the March 13 issue of Science, solves a longstanding puzzle about the underlying biochemical mechanisms that control plant clocks and could provide a new way to increase the growth and yield of agricultural crops.

The finding is the first outcome of a larger effort to assemble a complete library of all proteins called transcription factors, which regulate genes, in Arabidopsis, a plant often used as a genetic model.

Scientists previously had identified two primary feedback loops in the plant daily clock – one that detects the onset of light in the morning and another that tracks when light fades in the evening.

"The best way to construct a robust clock would be to connect the loops so that they both communicate that information to each other," said Steve Kay, dean of the Division of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego whose research team made the discovery. "Now a protein we call CHE has provided that link."

CHE, first predicted nearly a decade ago, has proved difficult to find. Multiple backup systems for many important functions in plants, including timekeeping, frustrate efforts to identify the function of an individual molecule or gene.

"In plants there are a lot of redundancies – proteins that do similar things," said Jose Pruneda-Paz, a postdoctoral fellow at UC San Diego and the first author of the study. "In the clock, on top of the redundancies, you have feedback loops that are interconnected. So it's difficult to perturb the system."

Disrupting a protein will fail to reveal its function if the system can compensate for its loss, so the team took a different approach. They sorted through proteins with the ability to bind to DNA, and therefore to regulate genes, and selected candidates mostly likely to be part of a clock: the ones that cycle between abundant and scarce.

Of those cyclical proteins, only CHE stuck specifically to the part of plant DNA that controls a critical component of the morning loop. Further experiments demonstrated that CHE also binds to an evening loop protein providing the missing link.

Pruneda-Paz and his co-authors "solve a major puzzle in our understanding of the plant clock," wrote C. Robertson McClung, professor of biology at Dartmouth College, in a commentary on the article that will appear in the same issue of Science.

Evidence increasingly points to the clock as a critical component of functions growth and the timing of flowering. A recent paper published in Nature by a group at the University of Texas, Austin reports that an altered clock contributes to hybrid vigor, suggesting that targeting clock genes may be a way to improve the growth of crops. "It's going to be a way to come up with rational design for increasing yield in the field," Kay said.

Kay expects the growing catalog of transcription factors to be completed by the end of the year with more than 2,000 entries, he said. "This is going to be a significant resource for the plant science community developed here at UC San Diego."

Grants from the National Insitutes of Health supported his team's research.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Missing Piece Of Plant Clock Found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312150729.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2009, March 19). Missing Piece Of Plant Clock Found. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312150729.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Missing Piece Of Plant Clock Found." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312150729.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). 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