Discovery on Circadian Clock Could Help Boost Water Efficiency of Plants

November 8, 2017

New discovery by Texas A&M AgriLife scientists gives insights about the biological circadian clock, how it regulates high water-use efficiency in some plants, and how other food plants might be improved for the same efficiency to be able to grow in conditions uninhabitable for them at present.

The team identified 1,398 transcription factors, and of these, nearly half showed time-of-day specific or diurnal gene expression patterns, which are important in uncovering genetic controls on how plants use water.

Led by Dr. Qingyi Yu, AgriLife Research associate professor, the group focused on pineapple, a water-efficient plant that uses crassulacean acid metabolism or CAM photosynthesis. They found genes regulated by the biological clock to express similarly in two tissue types of the pineapple plant: those that contribute to photosynthesis and those that do not. The finding represents a new paradigm for identifying core clock genes, Yu said. The method revealed the possible components of the circadian clock or oscillator that regulates CAM activity.

For more information, read AgriLife Today.