Plants Have Cellular Sensors To Find Sunlight

Posted: Dec 28 2015, 4:36am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Plants have Cellular Sensors to Find Sunlight
In the stem of the Arabidopsis plant, the light-sensitive receptor CRY2 (yellow) spurs a plant to begin a growth cycle and avoid shade. Credit: Salk Institute
  • Plants have Cell Sensors to detect Sunlight

Plants have been said to have cell sensors to detect sunlight.

Plants seem to be pretty much stagnant and show limited growth. But a lot is going on beneath the surface of these members of a more primitive kingdom than animals.

They battle each other in order to outgrow each other. And they also try to absorb as much sunlight and they vie with each other in this regard. When one plant species is shadowed by another, the sunlight it receives is limited. This sunlight is necessary for its survival.

That is why plants have internal light sensors that set off alarm systems that warn the plant regarding another plant that is taking its share of sunlight. These sensors can detect red and blue light (these are absorbed by verdant forms of growth).

But the plant knows whether the thing preventing the light from reaching it is another plant or just a cloud in the sky. Plants have thus found a way of outgrowing other species in their quest for sunlight.

Once scientists understand this mechanism in plants, crop productivity could increase ten times. It is especially the decrease in blue light that causes an acceleration in growth.

Maybe sometime in the future we could have plants that ignore the lessening of light and yet grow anyways. Plants also react to lessened red light by releasing a hormone known as auxin.

This helps them go beyond their neighbors in matters of growth. But the avoidance of shade can occur in another way then just the secretion of auxin.

A sensor called cryptochrome responds to lessened blue light via a speeding up of growth. This is through a turning on of the genes responsible for fecundity. Soy or tomato crops could be goaded into growing more forcibly in this manner.

The name of the game is cryptochromes. They are the blue light sensors. They command the plant by telling it when to blossom and when to grow. They have even been found in animals.

The circadian rhythms are connected with cryptochromes. Plants were placed in a room where the blue light was limited. The cryptochromes were deleted from their gene sequences.

The result was that these mutant plants responded differently than normal plants. Thus genetic manipulation can bypass the effects of lesser sunlight of any wavelength. The next phase lies in promoting growth through sheer manipulation of the microlevel factors.

This new study got published on Dec. 24, 2015 in Cell.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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