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Breakthrough in plant research
Date:2/27/2008

The research groups of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Helsinki and the University of California in San Diego have discovered a gene that is centrally involved in the regulation of carbon dioxide uptake for photosynthesis and water evaporation in plants. The discovery can aid the development of drought-tolerant crops. The article is published online ahead of print in Natures Advance Online Publication (AOP) on 27 February 2008.

Stomata are tiny pores on the plant leaf surface, through which the leaves absorb carbon dioxide necessary for photosynthesis and release moisture into the air. The plasma membranes of the guard cells that surround the stomatal pore contain several types of ion channels which control the opening and closing of the circular guard cells when the plant encounters a stressful situation, such as increased ozone in the air or drought. The regulation of stomata is an intensively-studied topic and several ion channel types that control their activity have been discovered earlier. However, an anion channel, which is of central importance in the regulation of stomatal activity, was identified only recently by Finnish and American scientist. A measuring device developed at the University of Tartu, Estonia, was of great help in the process.

Professor Jaakko Kangasjrvi and his research group from the University of Helsinki identified the anion channel using a mutation of Arabidopsis thaliana commonly known as thale cress. The mutant does not react by closing its stomata as a response to high ozone or carbon dioxide concentration in the air like a healthy plant does. Scientist at the University of California demonstrated with electrophysiological measurements that the gene identified encodes an anion channel involved in the regulation of stomatal activities.

The gene discovered is of central importance for the mechanisms of stomatal regulation. Unlike the ion channels detected pr
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Contact: Professor Jaakko Kangasjrvi
jaakko.kangasjarvi@helsinki.fi
358-919-159-444
University of Helsinki
Source:Eurekalert

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