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How plants counteract against the shade of larger neighbors
Date:12/17/2010

Plants that "lose the battle" during competitiveness for light because they are shaded by larger neighbours, counteract. They adapt by rapid shoot elongation and stretch their leaves towards the sun. The molecular basis of this so-called shade avoidance syndrome had been unclarified to date. Research scientists from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands and the Ruhr University in Bochum have now been able to unravel a regulation pathway. A specific transport protein (PIN3) enables the accumulation of the plant hormone auxin, which plays an important role during this adaptation process, in the outer cell layers of the plants, thus enhancing the growth process. The international group of researchers, which includes the plant hormone specialist Prof. Stephan Pollmann from the RUB, has published its observations in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Suddenly in the shade: plants counteract

Plants often grow in very complex ecosystems, implying that they are in danger of being overgrown and thus shaded by adjacent larger neighbours. Plants have a number of adjustment mechanisms enabling them to register competing neighbours and enhance their competitive reaction. This ensures flexible reaction. Permanent perception of the light intensity and quality is imperative for this process. Prof. Pollmann explained that chlorophyll, the photosynthetic pigment in the leaves, absorbs almost all shades of blue and far red, only allowing dark red light to pass through the leaves. There is a significant change in the red to far-red ratio if a plant is shaded by foliage. If the light receptors in the plants register this change, they initiate a number of adjustment mechanisms in their growth and development program. Taken together these constitute the so-called shadow avoidance syndrome. They enhance the growth of shoots and the upward movement of the leaves (i.e. the hyponastic response).

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Contact: Dr. Stephan Pollmann
stephan.pollmann@upm.es
34-913-364-589
Ruhr-University Bochum
Source:Eurekalert

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