Biotech Updates

Darmouth Scientist Works on Plants' Circadian Rhythms to Increase their Productivity

November 21, 2012

Plant biologist C. Robertson McClung from Darmouth College is studying the different mechanisms affecting plant behavior and genetics. Among these mechanisms, McClung is focused on the circadian rhythms of plants, saying that internal clocks are increasingly important in the face of global climate change, especially to agricultural productivity. He adds that, "We need to know how an organism measures time and how it uses that information."

McClung has been using the Arabidopsis plant in his study but is now looking at circadian patterns of Brassica napa, and together with his colleagues have mapped 10 genetic regions associated with water use efficiency and initial results indicate that the clock could be used to manipulate water use efficiency. In another project, McClung will work with soybeans, to correlate circadian period length with latitude. He added that, "If we can understand the clock, we might then manipulate the clock in ways to achieve desired goals, including water use efficiency and better yield."

For more on this research, read the news release at