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Studying the importance of biological rhythms for the ecological performance of plants
Date:2/29/2012

he function and circadian regulation of most of these genes is still unknown. What role do they play for the plants' survival and reproduction and how crucial is the circadian control of their expression?

These are the central questions in the project "Clockwork Green". Transgenic tobacco plants will be used whose biological clocks no longer work, because one of the many "clock genes", such as NaTOC1, has been silenced. These plants will be released in their natural habitat, the Great Basin Desert in Utah, USA, where they will grow together with wild and unmodified tobacco plants. All stages of plant development from germination to seed formation in the flowers will be studied. In addition, different ecological parameters, such as the intensity of infestation by herbivores and microbial pathogens, will be defined and the behavior of pollinators will be observed. Simultaneously, genetic, metabolic and physiological measurements will be conducted in "rhythmic" and "arrhythmic" plants.

The results will offer valuable clues to which genes are regulated by the biological clock and which are required for optimal plant growth and development. It is possible that different genes take over vital functions depending on the stage of life (germination leaf development flower formation pollination seed filling). The "timing" of plant growth plays an important role in agriculture for example for synchronized seed germination or flowering in grains and oilseeds. Therefore the project may produce interesting results with applications in agriculture.


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Contact: Ian T. Baldwin
baldwin@ice.mpg.de
49-364-157-1101
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Source:Eurekalert  

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