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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Find Plants Have Unique Gene Expression Networks to Cold and Drought

July 5, 2017

A study led by complexity scientist Samuel Scarpino explored gene co-expression networks that have evolved to help plants withstand drought and cold. The paper, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, focused on Arabidopsis and identified two unique gene expression networks: one adapted to cold, and the other to drought.

The two responses differ strategically and in evolutionary age. During drought, tissues in roots, stems, and leaves perform distinctive operations. When it begins to cool, cells in every tissue cope similarly, and by means that might as well have been applied, in prototype, by single-celled ancestors eons ago.

The researchers found that the genes that specifically cooperated during cold mapped to central, broadly networked positions within the roughly 10,000-gene network. By contrast, genes that cooperated specifically in drought mapped to peripheral clusters within the overall network. The research team concludes that the architectures of the two gene networks echo how plants behave under the two stresses.

For more details, read the Santa Fe Institute News.