Plants learn to forget stressful weather events to rapidly recover—4 August 2017

A new study, involving ARC-funded researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at the Australian National University Research School of Biology, has found that plants are able to forget stressful weather events to rapidly recover.

The findings, published in The Plant Cell, could help scientists better understand how plants and crops will cope and recover from variable weather.

ARC-funded researcher, Professor Barry Pogson, said the team tested the hypothesis by putting plants under light stress for an hour and then allowing them to recover for an hour, and supported this work with mathematical modelling.

“Plants have evolved over millennia to endure periods of drought, blistering sun and heat, among other environmental stresses,” said Professor Pogson.

“We found that plants are able to recover phenomenally well from some environmental stresses by quickly resetting to the pre-stress state.

“Stress is very important because it has a big effect on chloroplasts, which play a vital role in the process by which plants make their own food.”

Lead author Dr Peter Crisp, who conducted the research at ANU and is now based at the University of Minnesota, said plants learned to forget the stress by rapidly switching off and degrading the stress messengers. Dr Crisp said the findings were an important step towards having a comprehensive understanding of how food crops can thrive in different environments.

The research was supported (in part) by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, as well as funding through the ARC’s Discovery Early Career Researcher Award and Future Fellowships schemes.

 

Media issued by: ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.

Image: The research team studied the Arabidopsis plant by putting it under light stress. Pictured (L to R) Aaron Smith, Barry Pogson, Bethany Ston, Diep Ganguly and Kevin Murray from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.
Image courtesy: Jack Fox, ANU. 

Original Published Date: 
Monday, August 7, 2017