Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel mechanism protects plants against freezing; Insights could add to understanding of drought tolerance also

Date:
August 27, 2010
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
New nesearch helps explain how plants protect themselves from freezing temperatures and could lead to discoveries related to plant tolerance for drought and other extreme conditions.

This shows the effects of five days of freezing and then thawing on wild-type, freezing-resistant Arabidopsis thaliana, left, and mutant, freeze-sensitive Arabidopsis at right.
Credit: Eric Moellering, MSU

New ground broken by Michigan State University biochemists helps explain how plants protect themselves from freezing temperatures and could lead to discoveries related to plant tolerance for drought and other extreme conditions.

"This brings together two classic problems in plant biology," said Christoph Benning, MSU professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. "One is that plants protect themselves against freezing and that scientists long thought it had something to do with cell membranes, but didn't know exactly how.

"The other is the search for the gene for an enigmatic enzyme of plant lipid metabolism in the chloroplasts," in other words, how lipids, which are membrane building blocks, are made for the plant cell organelles responsible for converting solar energy into chemical energy by photosynthesis.

In an article published online in the journal Science, Benning and his then-doctoral degree candidate Eric Moellering and technical assistant Bagyalakshmi Muthan describe how a particular gene leads to the formation of a lipid that protects chloroplast and plant cell membranes from freeze damage by a novel mechanism in Arabidopsis thaliana, common mustard weed. Working on his dissertation project under Benning, Moellering identified a mutant strain of Arabidopsis that can't manufacture the lipid and linked this biochemical defect to work done by others who originally described the role of the gene in freeze tolerance, but did not find the mechanism.

"One of the big problems in freezing tolerance or general stress in plants is that some species are better at surviving stress than others," Moellering said. "We are only beginning to understand the mechanisms that allow some plants to survive while others are sensitive."

There is no single mechanism involved in plant freezing tolerance, Moellering added, so he can't say that his findings will lead any time soon to genetic breakthroughs making citrus or other freezing-intolerant plants able to thrive in northern climates. But it does add to our understanding of how plants survive temperature extremes.

Much plant damage in freezing temperatures is due to cell dehydration, in which water is drawn out as it crystallizes and the organelle or cell membrane shrivels as liquid volume drops. Lipids in the membranes of tolerant plants are removed and converted to oil that accumulates in droplets, the researchers said, retaining membrane integrity, keeping membranes from fusing with one another and conserving the energy by storing oil droplets. With rising concern globally about water supplies and climate change, scientists see additional reasons to understand the ways hardy plants survive.

The research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Basic Energy Sciences and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, also leads to speculation that freezing itself can prompt cell proteins directly to change the composition of the membrane, without activation by gradual acclimation. That has been a major focus in the plant freezing tolerance field, the researchers said.

"This opens a huge door now for people to do this kind of research, and to redirect researchers," Benning said. "There are lots of them out there trying to understand cold, salt and drought tolerance in plants, and we've given them a new idea about how they can approach this problem mechanistically."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eric R. Moellering, Bagyalakshmi Muthan, and Christoph Benning. Freezing Tolerance in Plants Requires Lipid Remodeling at the Outer Chloroplast Membrane. Science, 2010; DOI: 10.1126/science.1191803

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Novel mechanism protects plants against freezing; Insights could add to understanding of drought tolerance also." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100826141213.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2010, August 27). Novel mechanism protects plants against freezing; Insights could add to understanding of drought tolerance also. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100826141213.htm
Michigan State University. "Novel mechanism protects plants against freezing; Insights could add to understanding of drought tolerance also." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100826141213.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 13, 2014) Roars of excitement as a proud lioness shows off her four cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
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