With a temperature sensor in hand, researchers can engineer crops that produce yields in warmer climates.
When it gets hot outside, humans and animals have the luxury of seeking shelter in the shade or cool, air-conditioned buildings. But plants are stuck. While not immune to changing climate, plants respond to the rising mercury in different ways. Temperature affects the distribution of plants around the planet. It also affects the flowering time, crop yield, and even resistance to disease.
“It is important to understand how plants respond to temperature to predict not only future food availability but also develop new technologies to help plants cope with increasing temperature,” said Meng Chen, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology at the University of California, Riverside.
Scientists are keenly interested in figuring out how plants experience temperature during the day, but until recently this mechanism has remained elusive. Chen is leading a team to explore the role of phytochrome B, a molecular signaling pathway that may play a pivotal role in how plants respond to temperature.
In a paper published in Nature Communications, Chen and colleagues at UCR describe the genetic triggers that prepare plants for growth under different temperature conditions using the model plant, Arabidopsis.
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