"Inner clock" of plants could be key to maximising yields: Aussie study

2021-03-02 04:05:26 GMT2021-03-02 12:05:26(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

SYDNEY, March 2 (Xinhua) -- A new Australian study which details how plants use their metabolism to tell time and moderate growth, could help create larger food yields and ease the burden of world hunger, according to its authors.

Published on Tuesday, the study shows that an internal signal, called superoxide, acts in plants at dusk, adjusting their metabolic process in order to conserve energy.

Lead researcher Dr Mike Haydon from the University of Melbourne explained that while plants don't sleep as humans do, they need to conserve energy at night while there is no light to conduct photosynthesis.

"Getting the timing of this daily cycle of metabolism right is really important because getting it wrong is detrimental to growth and survival," Haydon said.

"Plants can't stumble to the fridge in the middle of the night if they get hungry so they have to predict the length of the night so there's enough energy to last until sunrise; a bit like setting an alarm clock."

Because this signal also affects growth, Haydon believes the knowledge of how this process works could lead to the more effective cultivation of plants in unconventional spaces such as during different seasons, at different latitudes or in artificial environments and vertical gardens.

"As we strive to produce more food for the increasing global population in the face of changing climate, we may need to grow crops in different environments," Haydon said.

"Understanding how plants optimise rhythms of metabolism could be useful information to allow us to fine-tune their circadian clocks to suit these conditions and maximise future yields." Enditem