Temperature-sensing plant molecule could help breed food crops optimized for changing climate

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In a paper published in Nature Communications, a group of cell biologists …. reveal the phytochrome B molecule has unexpected dynamics activated by temperature, and behaves differently depending on the temperature and type of light.

As climate change warms the world, crop growth patterns and flowering times will change. A better understanding of how phytochromes regulate the seasonal rhythms of plant growth will help scientists develop crops for optimal growth under the Earth’s new climate ….

Phytochromes switch between active and inactive forms like a binary switch controlled by light and temperature. In direct sunlight, such as in open fields, phytochromes switch “on,” absorbing far-red light. This active form inhibits stem elongation, which limits how tall plants in direct sunlight can grow.

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The team found increasing the temperature did not cause all the photobodies to disappear at once. Instead, specific photobodies disappeared in specific ranges of temperature. Increasing the temperature incrementally reduced the number of photobodies as they disappeared selectively.

The mechanism that makes them disappear selectively must be different from the mechanism that makes them disappear in shade. This suggests individual photobodies could be sensors for specific temperature ranges.

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