Scientists at the University of California Riverside have figured out
how plants respond to light and can flip this genetic switch to
encourage food growth. This discovery could help increase food
production for the world's growing population.
Light influences almost all aspects of plant growth. Plants sense light
and temperature with the phytochrome B protein. This protein conveys
light information into the cell that changes the expression of genomes,
altering plant growth. However, phytochrome B cannot interact directly
with the plant's DNA. For that, plant cells rely on a family of eight
proteins called PIFs.
The activities of PIFs are controlled by phytochrome. In addition to
this, the scientists learned that when phytochrome B is activated by
light, it inhibits the activity of the PIFs. The scientists also found
another key component of plants' light response. PIFs have two parts‚??one
that binds to genes, and one that activates the genes‚??which tell the
plant to perform different functions such as growing or flowering. The
UCR study found the precise location of these activator regions ‚?? the
first time this has been done in plant cells.
To find this activation region, the research team chopped the protein
into many small pieces and found one of them activates genes. The
scientists then changed the amino acids on a PIF, where they believed
the activator region to reside. One of the reasons for studying these
cellular functions is to manipulate them. This discovery could allow
scientists to turn light and temperature-related genes on and off to
benefit crop growers and increase food production.
Scientists can switch on plants‚?? response to light | News (ucr.edu)