The trick of plants to survive

Yes, they have their tricks too. Michigan State University proves it. What is the trick of plants to survive short days? They adapt to face the loss of natural light. This is especially useful during winter.

An article published in the journal Plant Physiology details it. Plants have multiple systems fine-tuned to cope with different day lengths. This could help develop new varieties of crops that can grow in a wider range of climates.

Plants' trick to surviving short days was identified.
Plants’ trick to surviving short days was identified.

Efficient plants

“I’m fascinated by the question: ‘Does photosynthesis limit plant growth or does plant growth limit photosynthesis?'” Tom Sharkey says it in a statement. He is a professor of Biochemistry in the College of Natural Sciences at Michigan State and an author of the study.

«And from that basic question we wanted to know something more. “How would growth be affected if we further reduced the amount of light that plants accustomed to shorter days had?”

The team studied a plant called Camelina sativa. It is a model oilseed crop. They used mass spectrometry and core metabolomics. Their conclusion: plants have adapted. They change how they use their energy based on the amount of natural light they receive.

The team found that when days are shorter, plants have less time to photosynthesize. Therefore, they need to be more efficient with the sunlight they receive. Plants do this by increasing their photosynthetic rate and reducing their respiration rate. They also invest more energy in their shoots, where photosynthesis takes place.

Managing photosynthesis makes it possible for plants to survive.
Managing photosynthesis makes it possible for plants to survive.

The beginning

As an additional mechanism, plants store more sugar as starch during the day. This way they have energy to use during the night, which is longer. What is the purpose of expanding our understanding of plant biology? The results could help generate new crop varieties that are more productive. They would be resistant to climate changes or changes in growing areas.

“Our findings may point the way to better plant growth,” Sharkey said. “Identifying the trick of plants to survive is just the beginning.”

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