How plants become good neighbors in times of stress

How can plants stop elongated growth in deep shade? Their internal clocks are the key to their success. Credit: Pexels Scientists have found out how plants can live together in darkened areas. Moderate shade, or even the threat from shadedetected phytochrome photoreceptorscauses the plants to elongate in an effort to outgrow their competition This strategy won't work in dense forests or areas with limited resources for photosynthesis. It would be wasteful and harmful to survival to lengthen stems in these conditions because seedlings wouldn't be able over-grow their larger neighbors. How can plants resist elongated growth in deep shade? According to the University of Bristol and John Innes Centre, the secret is in the internal clocks of the plants. Researchers discovered that plants can sense deep shade and alter the expression of certain genes. This is the internal clock, which is the daily timer in plants and other living organisms. These clock components also play a role in suppressing stem lengthenation and preventing neighbors from over-topping, which would normally occur in moderate shade. Researchers discovered a role for the circadian clock to regulate plant development. The findings could have significant implications for natural and agricultural plant populations, as well as crops. Because the study has implications for natural plant populations, the researchers have identified a new process to control the growth of plants under tropical rainforests and temperate forests in summer. Crops are usually grown in dense stands, which means they shade each other. The findings reveal possible ways to manipulate these processes to increase or decrease the height of crops. Professor Antony Dodd from the John Innes Centre stated, "The biological clocks of plants are a key regulator for their development and fitness." This research sheds new light upon a new role of circadian rhythms in adapting plants for competition with other plants in their environment. Kerry Franklin, University of Bristol, stated that "most of plant shade prevention research focuses upon early neighbor detection and moderate shading." This research provides new insight into how plants adapt to deep shade where resources are severely restricted. This study shows that the circadian clock is resilient and stable in stressful environments. This information could be helpful in the development of new crops in challenging climates. PNAS published the paper, PhytochromeA, which elevates plant circadian clock components to suppress shade avoidance under deep-canopy shades. Learn more Crops that can grow in the shade Further information: Donald P. Fraser et al., "Phytochrome A increases plant circadian-clock parts to suppress shade avoidance under deep-canopy shade," PNAS (2021). Information from the Journal: Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences Donald P. Fraser et al., "Phytochrome A raises plant circadian clock components to suppress shading avoidance in deep canopies," (2021). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2108176118

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