How Plants React to Blue Light? New Research Gives Breakthrough into Green's Sleep Cycle
Like humans, plants also have a sleep-wake cycle and this process is called a circadian rhythm. Cryptochromes are the proteins in plants and animals that help in regulating the sleep cycles. and these proteins are generally sensitive to blue light.
The latest research has found how plants can react to blue light by revealing the structure of cryptochrome-2, reported ANI.
As per the report, the study has been conducted by the Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences at the University of California. The lab where this research was conducted belongs to Professor Nitzan Shabek, an assistant professor at the university. Shabek received an innovation award worth $40,000 dollars last year to help him with expanding his research in the molecular biology of plants.
Speaking about the research, Prof. Shabek said that unlike humans, plants don’t have light-detector organs. However, they have a variety of receptors which detect almost all wavelengths.
The research has found when these blue-light detecting cryptochromes are exposed to a photon, they trigger a physiological response.
Researchers studied Arabidopsis thaliana which is considered to be a model plant. It has a small genome, grows quickly and produces many seeds which make it an ideal plant for research purposes. Using the Advanced Light Source X-ray, they were able to understand the structure of the cryptochrome-2. The X-ray facility was available at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
When the protein is exposed to blue light, certain elements within the protein undergo changes. The rearrangement process is called photo-induced oligomerization.
They observed that when subjected to the blue light, the light-detecting part of the molecule becomes a tetramer, a structure made of four units. Before this part detects light, it is a single unit.
This is not the first achievement for Prof. Nitzan’s team. Using biochemical approaches and X-Ray crystallography, they also discovered the crystal structure of the blue-light receptor a couple of years ago. The professor and his team were able to update their model and determine how the cryptochrome-2 reacts when exposed to blue-light with the help of latest technological discoveries in the field of botanical sciences.
Nitzen said that the latest discovery is a step towards their goal of understanding sensing mechanisms in plants. His team is interested in light signalling pathways and hormone perceptions.
They broadly study how plants react to their environment, both at the molecular level and as an organism.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications Biology.