Plants can sense, formulate reaction to temperature change

January 11th, 2010 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 11 (IANS) Plants are highly sensitive to changing temperatures and can coordinate an appropriate response for variations as little as one degree Celsius, according to a new finding that can help explain how plants will respond in the face of climate change.
The report shows how plants not only ‘feel’ the temperature rise, but also coordinate an appropriate response by activating hundreds of genes and deactivating others.

The findings will offer scientists new leads in the quest to create crop plants better able to withstand high temperature stress, the researchers say.

“We have uncovered a master regulator of the entire temperature transcriptome,” said Philip Wigge of John Innes Centre while referring to thousands of genes that are differentially activated under warmer versus cooler conditions.

Using model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, Wigge said: “When it gets warmer, the (plant’s) DNA unwraps,” which allows some genes to switch on and others to switch off.

As the number of people and affluence around the world continues to grow, “it is projected that world agriculture will have to increase yields by 70 to 100 percent in the next 100 years,” Wigge said.

“Under climate change it will be challenging simply to maintain present yields, let alone increase them,” Wigge added, according to John Inness release.

Crops such as wheat are particularly vulnerable to very hot and dry summers, he added, as evidenced by the fact that wheat reserves recently fell to their lowest level in 30 years, he said.

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