Dr Brendan O’Leary
Original Published Date: 
Friday, January 31, 2020

Full article issued by The University of Western Australia.

ARC supported researchers at The University of Western Australia have discovered that plants and animals use the same signalling process to manage their nutrient levels. The knowledge could help improve the use of energy in crops, leading to better yields in the future.

The study, published in the journal The Plant Cell, showed plants and animals balance their nutrient and energy in similar ways through the use of a protein called Target of Rapamycin (TOR).

ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) recipient Dr Brendan O’Leary from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at UWA, who led the study, said just as human bodies decide whether to store nutrients for growth, or burn them for energy, plants needed to do the same.

“Now that we know TOR is in charge of deciding what to do with the amino acids, it could be possible to develop ways to control these decisions,” Dr O’Leary said.

“This could lead to crop plants that are able to spend more of their energy on growth, leading to better yields in the future.”

Photo credit: 

Image: Dr Brendan O’Leary. Credit: ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.