Navigation Links
Researchers discover novel mechanism protecting plants against freezing

EAST LANSING, Mich. New ground broken by Michigan State University biochemists helps explain how plants protect themselves from freezing temperatures and could lead to discoveries related to plant tolerance for drought and other extreme conditions.

"This brings together two classic problems in plant biology," said Christoph Benning, MSU professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. "One is that plants protect themselves against freezing and that scientists long thought it had something to do with cell membranes, but didn't know exactly how.

"The other is the search for the gene for an enigmatic enzyme of plant lipid metabolism in the chloroplasts," in other words, how lipids, which are membrane building blocks, are made for the plant cell organelles responsible for converting solar energy into chemical energy by photosynthesis.

In an article published online this week by the journal Science, Benning and his then-doctoral degree candidate Eric Moellering and technical assistant Bagyalakshmi Muthan describe how a particular gene leads to the formation of a lipid that protects chloroplast and plant cell membranes from freeze damage by a novel mechanism in Arabidopsis thaliana, common mustard weed. Working on his dissertation project under Benning, Moellering identified a mutant strain of Arabidopsis that can't manufacture the lipid and linked this biochemical defect to work done by others who originally described the role of the gene in freeze tolerance, but did not find the mechanism.

"One of the big problems in freezing tolerance or general stress in plants is that some species are better at surviving stress than others," Moellering said. "We are only beginning to understand the mechanisms that allow some plants to survive while others are sensitive."

There is no single mechanism involved in plant freezing tolerance, Moellering added, so he can't say that his findings will lead any time soon to genetic breakthroughs making citrus or other freezing-intolerant plants able to thrive in northern climates. But it does add to our understanding of how plants survive temperature extremes.

Much plant damage in freezing temperatures is due to cell dehydration, in which water is drawn out as it crystallizes and the organelle or cell membrane shrivels as liquid volume drops. Lipids in the membranes of tolerant plants are removed and converted to oil that accumulates in droplets, the researchers said, retaining membrane integrity, keeping membranes from fusing with one another and conserving the energy by storing oil droplets. With rising concern globally about water supplies and climate change, scientists see additional reasons to understand the ways hardy plants survive.

The research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Basic Energy Sciences and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, also leads to speculation that freezing itself can prompt cell proteins directly to change the composition of the membrane, without activation by gradual acclimation. That has been a major focus in the plant freezing tolerance field, the researchers said.

"This opens a huge door now for people to do this kind of research, and to redirect researchers," Benning said. "There are lots of them out there trying to understand cold, salt and drought tolerance in plants, and we've given them a new idea about how they can approach this problem mechanistically."


Contact: Mark Fellows
Michigan State University

Related biology news :

1. UK researchers release draft sequence coverage of wheat genome
2. 2 Hispanic researchers from Argonne receive national acclaim
3. Researchers find gene responsible for neurodegenerative disease in dogs, possibly in humans
4. Researchers study cinnamon extracts
5. K-state researchers explore physiological effects of space travel with NASA grant
6. Researchers connect APC protein to autism and mental retardation
7. MIT researchers develop a better way to grow stem cells
8. U of M researchers identify 2 FDA approved drugs that may fight HIV
9. Researchers advance understanding of enzyme that regulates DNA
10. Juelich researchers take a look inside molecules
11. Researchers: Cures to diseases may live in our guts
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Researchers discover novel mechanism protecting plants against freezing
(Date:4/13/2017)... According to a new market research report "Consumer IAM Market by Solution ... Authentication Type, Deployment Mode, Vertical, and Region - Global Forecast to 2022", ... 14.30 Billion in 2017 to USD 31.75 Billion by 2022, at a ... ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... Forecasts by Product Type (EAC), Biometrics, Card-Based ... & Logistics, Government & Public Sector, Utilities / Energy ... Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, Business Organisation (BFSI), Hospitality & ... for a definitive report on the $27.9bn Access Control ... ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 3, 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, ... detected a statistically significant association between the ... treatment and objective response of cancer patients ... predict whether cancer patients will respond to ... well as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... 09, 2017 , ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature 3 ... airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ten ... to continue to feed a growing nation. At the same time, many of our ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s SPEAC® System which uses ... EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using surface electromyography (sEMG). The ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... 2017  The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry ... Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard ... microscopy (cryo-EM) have helped to broaden the ... community. The winners worked with systems manufactured by ... highly resolved, three-dimensional images of protein structures that ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... ... , ... LabRoots , the leading provider of educational and interactive virtual ... to cancer research with a month-long promotion supporting the advancement of breast cancer research ... use promo code PinkRibbon to get 10 percent off their purchase of every the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: