Biotech Updates

Insights on How Plants Respond to Elevated CO2 Levels

July 9, 2014

Biologists at University of California San Diego have discovered a new genetic pathway in plants made up of four genes from three gene families that control the density of breathing pores, or stomata, in plant leaves in response to elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Led by Julian Schroeder, the team sought to understand the fundamental mechanisms and genes by which CO2 represses stomatal pore development. Using Arabidopsis, Schroeder and his team found that the proteins encoded by the four genes they discovered repress the development of stomata at elevated CO2 levels.

The biologists isolated proteins which took away the plant's ability to respond to stress when mutated. They found that when plants sense atmospheric levels rising, they increase their expression of a key hormone called Epidermal Patterning Factor-2 (EPF2). The team also identified a new protein that they called CRSP (CO2 Response Secreted Protease) which, they determined, is crucial for activating the EPF2 peptide.

For more details about this research, read the news release at: