A new study conducted by the University of Exeter and the University of
Essex has discovered that hydrogen peroxide, a compound best known for its
bleaching property, is used by plants to control how their cells react to
varying levels of light. Hydrogen peroxide is a by-product of photosynthesis
in the chloroplasts.
"It's important for plants to be able to detect how much light there is, so
they can make the most of it for photosynthesis," said Professor Nick
Smirnoff, of the University of Exeter.
The researchers used a fluorescent protein that detects hydrogen peroxide
and observed how it moves from chloroplasts and can be detected in cell
nuclei. The process showed how plants activate
needed for leaves to adapt to bright light, which has potential damaging
effects. The communication of chloroplasts with one another ensures that
plants continue to protect photosynthesis, and adjust to light conditions at
the same time.