Crop Biotech Update

"Molecular Memory" Helps Plants Remember Daylight During Winter

February 10, 2016

Dmitri A. Nusinow and researchers in his laboratory at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center studying plant circadian clock have discovered a gene that allows plants to remember daylight during winter's long nights. The gene, PCH1, helps plants tailor their growth according to the seasons. It accumulates at dusk and stabilizes light signals in the early hours of the night to keep the plant from growing too much during extended dark periods.

PCH1 serves as a "molecular memory" of the light that plants absorbed during the day, delaying the start of growth during long nights. Without PCH1, plants grow more than what is ideal during long nights, making a spindly plant that is not as sturdy as those with PCH1. Nusinow and his team discovered PCH1 in the plant Arabidopsis, but found that it is present in other plants, including rice.

For more, read the news release at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center website.