Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scientists discover gene that helps plants sense dark

Scientists discover gene that helps plants sense darkScottish scientists have discovered genes that help plants sense when it is dark and therefore time to "go to bed".

It is hoped the breakthrough will help scientists understand the "internal clocks" that control human sleep cycles.

A study, led by Edinburgh University, used computer models of gene networks in a simple cress plant to show that certain genes take effect to enable plants to reduce their activity at night and predict when the sun will rise again.

The genes allow plants to make tiny adjustments to their internal clock as light changes, a process that is crucial in helping plants to adapt to different lengths of days and changing seasons.

Researchers hope the discovery will bring them a step closer to understanding other daily rhythms that affect plants and people such as the flowering of staple crops such as wheat, barley and rice, and the patterns of human sleep.

Scientists already knew that plant activity such as growth and flowering was controlled by an internal rhythm, known as a circadian clock.

Previous studies have shown that even the simplest of plants have a complicated internal clock, with daylight saving time built in. ...

via Scientists discover gene that helps plants sense dark | Edinburgh and East | STV News.

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