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Lighting up the plant hormone 'command system'
Date:7/22/2012

Stanford, CA Light is not only the source of a plant's energy, but also an environmental signal that instructs the growth behavior of plants. As a result, a plant's sensitivity to light is of great interest to scientists and their research on this issue could help improve crop yields down the road. Similarly understanding a plant's temperature sensitivity could also help improve agriculture and feed more people. Two new papers from Carnegie's Zhiyong Wang laboratory identify key aspects of the hormonal responses of plants to changes in light and heat in their environments. Their work is published online July 22 by Nature Cell Biology.

To have optimal exposure to sun light, plants must grow differently depending on the lighting conditions. For example, when a seed germinates underground, it must elongate its stem rapidly to reach the surface of soil; when a plant is shaded by its neighbor, it also elongate its stem to outcompete for sun light; whereas expanding leaves is the priority for plants under full sun light. On the other hand, like all organisms, plant growth and development is also regulated by internally produced chemical signals, namely hormones. How plants coordinate their responses to light and hormonal signals is an outstanding question of great interest to scientists and importance to crop yield. It is believed that identification of the central regulatory mechanism that integrates multiple environmental and hormonal signals has great potential for improving crop yield. Such a central regulatory mechanism is the focus of the two papers from the Wang lab.

The light-induced transition from a developmental pathway that leads to slim seedling with yellow folded leaves, called etiolation, to a developmental pathway that leads to short stem and expanded green leaves, called de-etoilation, has been extensively studied for many years. This research led to the discovery, 15 years ago, of the steroid hormone brassinosteroid, which
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Contact: Zhiyong Wang
zywang24@stanford.edu
650-739-4205
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert

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