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article imageNew Breakthrough in Global Warming Plant Production Special

By Bob Ewing     Apr 2, 2009 in Environment
Researchers have made a discovery about plant growth which could potentially have an enormous impact on crop production as global warming increases.
The researchers from the universities of Leicester and Oxford were led by Dr Kerry Franklin, from the University of Leicester Department of Biology.
The study identified a single gene that is responsible for controlling plant growth responses to elevated temperature.
I asked, via email, Dr. Franklin to elaborate on the importance of the study.
Franklin replied “We are currently in the early stages of basic research in a model organism , but this exciting discovery now enables us to study the function of PIF4 in a variety of crop plants. Understanding how this gene regulates plant growth in a variety of important crop species could ultimately have the potential to increase plant biomass at elevated temperatures.“
The work has been published in Current Biology and was funded by the Royal Society and the BBSRC.
Franklin said “Exposure of plants to high temperature results in the rapid elongation of stems and a dramatic upwards elevation of leaves”.
“These responses are accompanied by a significant reduction in plant biomass, thereby severely reducing harvest yield. Our study has revealed that a single gene product regulates all these architectural adaptations in the model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana.”
“This study provides the first major advance in understanding how plants regulate growth responses to elevated temperature at the molecular level. This discovery will prove fundamental in understanding the effects of global climate change on crop productivity”.
More about Plants, Global warming, Arabidopsis thaliana
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