What helps plants go green?

June 30th, 2010 - 1:33 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 30 (ANI): Researchers have found a central part in the machinery that turns plants green when they sense light.

Plants, according to Meng Chen, an assistant professor of biology at Duke, have two different systems to take advantage of light.

The first one is chloroplasts that turn sunlight into fuel via photosynthesis.

The other is a system of light-sensitive proteins called photoreceptors that use light as information and direct plant development and growth.

Chen’s team has found a key intermediary between the light system for information and the light system that makes fuel - a find that could lead to increase in agricultural yields or improved photosynthesis of bio fuel crops.

A type of photoreceptors called phytochrome, is sensitive to red and far-red light and play a major role in the making of chloroplasts and the growth of the stem.

When light hits the plant, they move from the cell’s cytoplasm to its nucleus, where the genes are kept.

Chen identified a new gene, hemera that seems to be required for both the localization and the signalling of phytochrome.

Without Hemera, “a mutant plant is blind to light and the chloroplasts can’t develop,” Chen said.

The findings appear in the June 25 issue of Cell. (ANI)

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