Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Living stone' plant adapts to extreme conditions in new ways

Date:
October 23, 2013
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
A unique plant that lives underground uses multiple mechanisms to boost photosynthesis and offers new insights into how plants adapt to extreme conditions.

This image depicts the longitudinal leaf transect showing epidermis under UV light.
Credit: Matthew P. Davey

A unique plant that lives underground uses multiple mechanisms to boost photosynthesis and offers new insights into how plants adapt to extreme conditions, according to new research published October 23 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, by Katie Field and colleagues at the University of Sheffield and other institutions.

Lithops are a type of South African "living stone," a mostly underground plant that lives in extremely dry conditions. This underground life makes it difficult to get enough sun to photosynthesize while still conserving as much water as possible. Lithops has many adaptations to help it do just this, including a top surface with "windows" of translucent pockets that allows light penetration to photosynthetic tissues deep within the subterranean leaf. Cleverly, these windows also have sunscreen properties to block out harmful UV light.

But too much light can also be a problem, resulting in excess energy that cannot be used effectively for photosynthesis. To offset this excess energy and protect themselves against damage, plants with above-ground photosynthetic organs use a process known as non-photochemical quenching (NPQ).

The authors here use a combination of techniques to show that individual leaves of a Lithops species have adaptations for both high light and shade tolerance, revealing for the first time the physiological mechanisms employed to optimize above-ground and subterranean photosynthesis while minimizing water loss within its extremely dry environment. Specifically, they found local differences in surface adaptations (windows) combined with regional physiological differences in the outer cell shape and chemistry and photosynthetic mechanisms, which are dependent on whether the leaf is deep underground or just above ground. This is the first time such physiological flexibility has been observed in Lithops, and offers new insight into how plants respond and adapt to extreme conditions.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Katie J. Field, Rachel George, Brian Fearn, W. Paul Quick, Matthew P. Davey. Best of Both Worlds: Simultaneous High-Light and Shade-Tolerance Adaptations within Individual Leaves of the Living Stone Lithops aucampiae. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (10): e75671 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075671

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "'Living stone' plant adapts to extreme conditions in new ways." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023183256.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2013, October 23). 'Living stone' plant adapts to extreme conditions in new ways. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023183256.htm
Public Library of Science. "'Living stone' plant adapts to extreme conditions in new ways." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023183256.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 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:

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