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Biologists identify genes controlling rhythmic plant growth
Date:9/15/2008

paper. "Many different plant hormone genes, including genes for hormones that promote and antagonize growth, are co-expressed at the time of day that plants grow," said Chory. "That such an extensive gene regulatory module exists was quite a surprise."

To illustrate their model, the scientists attached a glowing enzyme, luciferase, to the genes they identified as responsible for rhythmic growth in Arabidopsis plants. As the plants go through their rhythmic growth phase, the Arabidopsis plants glow on and off as genes that regulate the opening and closing of the gate to plant hormones are activated, then deactivated. See video with narration at: http://www.biology.ucsd.edu/scicomm/video/sprouts.mov

The scientists also discovered that most of the genes involved in this rhythmic predawn growth have a DNA sequence in common, a master controller that they dubbed the HUD elementfor "Hormone Up at Dawn." This HUD element, they noted, must have a protein that attaches to it that regulates its function.

"We don't know what that is, because we haven't found it yet," said Kay. "Identifying that protein regulator is going to be a key goal for the future because that protein is going to be very, very important for controlling plant growth and yield."

"It's a very exciting time for biologists," Chory added, "because the tools now exist to answer questions about complex processes, such as how plants grow or how human metabolism goes awry."


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Contact: Kim McDonald
kimmcdonald@ucsd.edu
858-534-7572
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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