Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plants use sugars to tell the time of day

Date:
October 23, 2013
Source:
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Summary:
Scientists are studying how plants are able to set and maintain this internal clock. They have found that the sugars produced by plants are key to timekeeping.

Plants, like animals, have a 24 hour 'body-clock' known as the circadian rhythm. The ability to keep time provides an important competitive advantage and is vital in biological processes such as flowering, fragrance emission and leaf movement.
Credit: Olivier M. / Fotolia

Plants use sugars to tell the time of day, according to research published in Nature today.

Plants, like animals, have a 24 hour 'body-clock' known as the circadian rhythm. This biological timer gives plants an innate ability to measure time, even when there is no light -- they don't simply respond to sunrise, for example, they know it is coming and adjust their biology accordingly. This ability to keep time provides an important competitive advantage and is vital in biological processes such as flowering, fragrance emission and leaf movement.

BBSRC-funded scientists from the University of Cambridge Department of Plant Sciences are studying how plants are able to set and maintain this internal clock. They have found that the sugars produced by plants are key to timekeeping.

Plants produce sugar via photosynthesis; it is their way of converting the sun's energy into a usable chemical form needed for growth and function.

This new research has shown that these sugars also play a role in circadian rhythms. Researchers studied the effects of these sugars by monitoring seedlings in CO2-free air, to inhibit photosynthesis, and by growing genetically altered plants and monitoring their biology. The production of sugars was found to regulate key genes responsible for the 24 hour rhythm.

Dr Alex Webb, lead researcher at the University of Cambridge, explains: "Our research shows that sugar levels within a plant play a vital role in synchronizing circadian rhythms with its surrounding environment. Inhibiting photosynthesis, for example, slowed the plants internal clock by between 2 and 3 hours."

The research shows that photosynthesis has a profound effect on setting and maintaining robust circadian rhythms in Arabidopsis plants, demonstrating a critical role for metabolism in regulation of the circadian clock.

Dr Mike Haydon, who performed much of the research and is now at the University of York, added: "The accumulation of sugar within the plant provides a kind of feedback for the circadian cycle in plants -- a bit like resetting a stopwatch. We think this might be a way of telling the plant that energy in the form of sugars is available to perform important metabolic tasks. This mirrors research that has previously shown that feeding times can influence the phase of peripheral clocks in animals."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael J. Haydon, Olga Mielczarek, Fiona C. Robertson, Katharine E. Hubbard, Alex A. R. Webb. Photosynthetic entrainment of the Arabidopsis thaliana circadian clock. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12603

Cite This Page:

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Plants use sugars to tell the time of day." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023131804.htm>.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. (2013, October 23). Plants use sugars to tell the time of day. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023131804.htm
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Plants use sugars to tell the time of day." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023131804.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

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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