How Do Plants Avoid Ultraviolet Radiation From Sun?

Posted: Apr 18 2018, 12:36pm CDT | by , Updated: Apr 18 2018, 12:39pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
How Does Plants Avoid Ultraviolet Radiation from Sun?
Arabidopsis thaliana, the plant species used in this study. Credit: Eric Belfield

Plants have a special repair mechanism to correct the DNA sequence after exposure to sun

Plants have a special repair mechanism that protects their DNA from the damaging effects of the sun. In the latest study, researchers explain exactly how the system works. The system, called "nucleotide excision repair" is super robust and looks similar to the one found in human and animals, though its efficiency depends on day/night cycle.

While plants need sunlight for their growth and development, they cannot easily avoid it. As a form of defense, they must have an efficient system to repair DNA.

Using an advanced excision-repair mapping technique, researchers have detected and sequenced the short lengths of damaged DNA that are removed from chromosomes during the excision repair and described the process with an unprecedented detail. To precisely determine the spots where DNA-damage is under repair, the sequences of these DNA snippets should be matched to corresponding stretches of DNA.

Researchers tested XR-seq technique on cells from a UV-exposed planet Arabidopsis thaliana and found that excision repair in this plant works faster on genes that are active. Genes consist of a long strand of DNA. When a gene is active, coding sequence or portion which determines what the gene produces is copied in a process called transcription and creates an RNA copy of the gene's information. A DNA repair pathway, called transcription-coupled repair, is thought to have evolved as a way to direct DNA repair where it is most acutely needed.

“The results show that excision repair in plants is regulated in much the same way it is in other organisms - in order to maximize efficiency," said Onur Oztas, lead study researcher from the Sancar lab. "Here we found that the jump in efficiency for transcription-coupled repair is even more pronounced in plants than it is in animals or bacteria.”

Researchers found that the efficiency of transcription-coupled repair also varies throughout the 24 hour period. Furthermore, the plant repair system involves a slightly different set of repair proteins than are found in other organisms.

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