A study from Stockholm University reveals that special genes keep plants
from withering, staying healthy despite the lack of oxygen when they are
underwater for extended periods of time.
Sylvia Lindberg, professor at Stockholm University, looked at how plants
become more resistant to oxygen deficiency. During this period, special
genes signal danger and the plant activates other genes to help defend
itself. One of these genes is PLD, which forms the enzyme phospholipase D.
Until now, the key role it plays in the plants' oxygen deficiency signal
systems was unknown.
Lindberg and her research team used mutant plants lacking the potentially
protective gene to see how they would perform during a simulated flood. The
leaves of the mutant plants turned yellow and died, meaning that the gene
plays a role in keeping the plants in good condition. Some of the mutant
plants produced less calcium and less phosphatidic acid, substances that
signal stress in plants.