Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Adjustable valves gave ancient plants the edge

Date:
June 10, 2011
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Controlling water loss is an important ability for modern land plants as it helps them thrive in changing environments. New research shows that water conserving innovations occurred very early in plants' evolutionary history.

The stomata of Selaginella uncinata.
Credit: Image by Elizabeth Ruszala

Controlling water loss is an important ability for modern land plants as it helps them thrive in changing environments. New research from the University of Bristol, published June 9 in the journal Current Biology, shows that water conserving innovations occurred very early in plants' evolutionary history.

The research focused on the role of stomata, microscopic pores in the surface of leaves that allow carbon dioxide gas to be taken up for use in photosynthesis, while at the same time allowing water to escape. Instead of being fixed pores in the leaf, rather like a sieve, the stomata of modern plants are more like valves that open and close on demand. They do this in response to environmental and chemical signals, such as light and carbon dioxide, therefore balancing the photosynthetic and water requirements of the plant. Therefore, a key evolutionary question is: when did plants develop these 'active' mechanisms of stomatal control?

Elizabeth Ruszala, a Gatsby Charitable Foundation-funded PhD student working in Professor Alistair Hetherington's research group in the School of Biological Sciences, studied the stomata of Selaginella uncinata, a member of a primitive group of plants called spikemosses, which first appeared approximately 400 million years ago.

Significantly, not only were the stomata of this ancient group of land plants able to open and close in response to changes in light and carbon dioxide, they also responded to the key plant hormone abscisic acid which regulates stomatal function -- especially under drought conditions -- in modern plants.

These results show that the ability to regulate stomatal aperture in response to changing environmental conditions was already present very early in plant evolution.

Research on understanding how stomata work is also directly relevant to the agriculture needs of the twenty-first century because a key target for crop breeders is the development of new varieties that produce excellent yields but use less water in the process.

Professor Alistair Hetherington said: "Understanding how plants made the successful transition from life in water to the successful colonization of the drying terrestrial environment is one of the big questions in contemporary plant biology. Our work shows that the acquisition of stomata that were able to open and close in response to changing environmental conditions, thereby helping plants to avoid drying out, was a very important step in the evolution of the land flora."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Elizabeth M. Ruszala, David J. Beerling, Peter J. Franks, Caspar Chater, Stuart A. Casson, Julie E. Gray, Alistair M. Hetherington. Land Plants Acquired Active Stomatal Control Early in Their Evolutionary History. Current Biology, 09 June 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.04.044

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Adjustable valves gave ancient plants the edge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110609122927.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2011, June 10). Adjustable valves gave ancient plants the edge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110609122927.htm
University of Bristol. "Adjustable valves gave ancient plants the edge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110609122927.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. 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