Using a natural alarm clock in plants could help increase crop yields to feed a growing population, according to researchers.
Plants use their metabolism to have enough energy overnight
A University of Melbourne led study found out how plants use their metabolism to determine the time and know when to grow. A discovery that the study’s researchers believe could help grow plants in different settings, including different seasons, different latitudes, or even artificial environments and vertical gardens.
Superoxide was published in the PNAS journal and is promoted by sucrose. It affects the amplitude of the circadian rhythms in the evening and describes how plants use their metabolism to record the time at dusk and save energy generated from sunlight during the day.
Lead researcher Dr. Mike Haydon of the School of BioSciences said that while plants don’t sleep like humans, their metabolism is adjusted at night to save energy for the big day before making their own food using energy from sunlight or photosynthesis.
„Getting this daily metabolic cycle right is really important because it is detrimental to growth and survival if you get it wrong,” explained Dr. Haydon.
“Plants can’t stumble to the refrigerator in the middle of the night when they get hungry. Therefore, they have to predict the length of the night so that there is enough energy for sunrise. a bit like setting an alarm clock. „
Dr. Haydon and co-workers had previously shown that the enrichment of sugar from photosynthesis in the plant provides important information about the amount of sugar produced in the morning and sends signals to the so-called circadian clock to adjust its speed.
„We have now found that another metabolic signal called superoxide works at dusk and changes the activity of the circadian clock genes in the evening,” said Dr. Haydon. “We also found that this signal influences plant growth. We believe that this signal could provide the plant with information about metabolic activity at sunset. „
The researchers hope the study will be invaluable to the world, which is more reliable in producing more food.
„As we strive to produce more food for the growing world population in the face of changing climates, we may need to grow plants in different environments such as different seasons, different latitudes, or even in artificial environments like vertical gardens,” added Dr. Haydon added.
„Understanding how plants optimize the rhythm of metabolism could be useful information so that we can adjust their circadian clocks to these conditions and maximize future yields.”