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Crop Biotech Update

New Insights on Plant Aging Promotes Better Understanding of Crop Yields

December 7, 2016

Plant aging, or what is called senescence, is an important process in the life cycle of a plant. This process has critical implications for biological success: premature aging could result in yield reduction, while late senescence delays reallocation of nutrients, which may impact the viability of the next generation.

In a new paper published in eLife, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers describe how an epigenetic protein complex acts as a link between the environment and the genome to promoting the onset of aging in plants. That complex is a specific histone deacetylase (HDAC) called HDA9 and it helps translate environmental signals, like darkness, into epigenetic change.

The researchers looked at the genome of Arabidopsis thaliana for locations where HDA9 binds, and found evidence that it is a key player in senescence. It acts on previously identified genes that code for different components of plant aging. The researchers said that this information will provide a foundation for developing a new strategy to manipulate plant aging processes to improve crop productivity, which could prove beneficial for agricultural improvement.

For more details, read the news release at UW-Madison website.