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Plants in the fourth dimension
Date:6/30/2008

te, resulting in greater genetic variation at this locus (chromosomal region). If plants have to respond to different conditions of light and temperature at different locations, then it makes sense for different varieties of the same plant to have slightly different forms (alleles) of the gene. Similar mutations in other clock genes will then result in the evolution of many clocks and circadian rhythms keyed to local conditionsthe plant equivalent of time zones.

The scientists are now also examining the clock genes in other plants and have found quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for these genes in the model crop species Brassica rapa (rapeseed). QTLs are chromosomal regions containing closely related genes that all influence a trait, resulting in, for example, a range of heights or eye color. Such loci are consistent with multiple interlocking genes in the clock mechanisms of circadian rhythms. The knowledge of circadian rhythms in animals is being used in medicine to facilitate drug delivery and cancer treatments. Understanding the clock genes through which plants interact with their environments can aid in engineering crops and cultivars for higher productivity, as well as adaptation of foreign plants to new environmental conditions.


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Contact: C. Robertson McClung
mcclung@dartmouth.edu
603-646-3940
American Society of Plant Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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