Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New discovery could stimulate plant growth and increase crop yields, researchers say

Date:
January 13, 2014
Source:
Durham University
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a natural mechanism in plants that could stimulate their growth even under stress and potentially lead to better crop yields.

Dr Ari Sadanandom with rice plants.
Credit: Image courtesy of Durham University

Scientists led by experts at Durham University have discovered a natural mechanism in plants that could stimulate their growth even under stress and potentially lead to better crop yields.

Plants naturally slow their growth or even stop growing altogether in response to adverse conditions, such as water shortage or high salt content in soil, in order to save energy.

They do this by making proteins that repress the growth of the plant. This process is reversed when plants produce a hormone -- called Gibberellin -- which breaks down the proteins that repress growth.

Growth repression can be problematic for farmers as crops that suffer from restricted growth produce smaller yields.

The research team, led by the Durham Centre for Crop Improvement Technology, and including experts at the University of Nottingham, Rothamsted Research and the University of Warwick, have discovered that plants have the natural ability to regulate their growth independently of Gibberellin, particularly during times of environmental stress.

They found that plants produce a modifier protein, called SUMO that interacts with the growth repressing proteins.

The researchers believe that by modifying the interaction between the modifier protein and the repressor proteins they can remove the brakes from plant growth, leading to higher yields, even when plants are experiencing stress.

The interaction between the proteins can be modified in a number of ways, including by conventional plant breeding methods and by biotechnology techniques.

The research was carried out on Thale Cress, a model for plant research that occurs naturally throughout most of Europe and Central Asia, but the scientists say the mechanism they have found also exists in crops such as barley, corn, rice and wheat.

The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and is published in the journal Developmental Cell. It is the subject of pending patent applications and commercial rights are available from Plant Bioscience Limited, Durham's commercialisation partner for this technology.

Corresponding author Dr Ari Sadanandom, Associate Director of the Durham Centre for Crop Improvement Technology, in Durham University's School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, said the finding could be an important aid in crop production.

Dr Sadanandom said: "What we have found is a molecular mechanism in plants which stabilises the levels of specific proteins that restrict growth in changing environmental conditions.

"This mechanism works independently of the Gibberellin hormone, meaning we can use this new understanding for a novel approach to encourage the plant to grow, even when under stress.

"If you are a farmer in the field then you don't want your wheat to stop growing whenever it is faced with adverse conditions.

"If we can encourage the crops to keep growing, even when faced by adverse conditions, it could give us greater yields and lead to sustainable intensification of food production that we must achieve to meet the demands on the planet's finite resources."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Lucio Conti, Stuart Nelis, Cunjin Zhang, Ailidh Woodcock, Ranjan Swarup, Massimo Galbiati, Chiara Tonelli, Richard Napier, Peter Hedden, Malcolm Bennett et al. Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier Protein SUMO Enables Plants to Control Growth Independently of the Phytohormone Gibberellin. Developmental Cell, January 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2013.12.004

Cite This Page:

Durham University. "New discovery could stimulate plant growth and increase crop yields, researchers say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140113125146.htm>.
Durham University. (2014, January 13). New discovery could stimulate plant growth and increase crop yields, researchers say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140113125146.htm
Durham University. "New discovery could stimulate plant growth and increase crop yields, researchers say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140113125146.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo

Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) The Buenos Aires Zoo debuted a trio of rare white Bengal tiger cubs on Wednesday. (April 16) Video provided by AP
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