Biotech Updates

UC San Diego Team Identifies CO2 Sensor in Plants that Controls Water Loss

December 14, 2022

Scientists at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) have recently made a breakthrough in identifying the long-sought carbon dioxide (CO2) sensor in Arabidopsis plants and unraveled its functioning parts. Researchers have discovered more than 50 years ago that plants can sense CO2, but have not identified the sensor or explained how it works within plants.

In a paper published in Science Advances, UC San Diego project scientist Yohei Takahashi, Professor Julian Schroeder, and their colleagues identified the CO2 sensor mechanism and detailed its genetic, biochemical, physiological, and predicted structural properties. The research team found that plants sense changes in CO2 concentration by the reversible interaction of two proteins to regulate stomatal movements. The two plant proteins working together were identified as 1) a “high leaf temperature1” protein kinase known as HT1 and 2) specific members of a mitogen-activated protein kinase family, or “MAP” kinase enzyme, known as MPK4 and MPK12.

The team's findings have been filed in a UC San Diego patent and could lead to innovations in efficient water use by plants as CO2 levels rise. “If we can use this new information to help trees respond better to increases in CO2 in the atmosphere, it's possible they would more slowly dry out the soil. Similarly, the water use efficiency of crops could be improved—more crop per drop,” said Professor Julian Schroeder.

For more details, read the article in UC San Diego Today.

You might also like: