GPC Members Login
If you have any problems or have forgotten your login please contact [email protected]

New understanding of how plants respond to environmental stresses

Researchers from the Spanish National Research Council have uncovered a family of proteins that play a vital role in coordinating the cellular response of plants to various environmental stresses, in particular drought and temperature fluctuations.

A collaboration between the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Plant Biology (IBMCP) of the Universitat Politècnica de València (Polytechnic University of Valencia, UPV) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and the Rocasolano-CSIC Institute of Physical Chemistry (IQFR-CSIC), the findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and could help improve the defensive processes of plants in the driest regions of the Mediterranean Basin.

Cellular membranes are the point of contact between the cell and its external environment. A large number of receptor systems are concentrated here that process the ever-changing signals received from the outside world. Be it heat, cold, drought, etc., the cells must respond adequately to each of these environmental stresses in order to maintain the plant’s vital functions. In plants these processes are constantly ‘on’; being rooted in the ground, they have no other response to stresses deriving from changing weather conditions, or the simple passage of night to day.

This study has identified a family of proteins, the CAR proteins, which cluster together to create a series of points throughout the membrane that can be used by key signalling proteins to carry out their respective adaptive functions. CSIC researcher Pedro Luis Rodriguez from the IBMCP explain: “These [CAR] proteins form a kind of landing strip, acting as molecular antennas that call out to other proteins as and when necessary to orchestrate the required cellular response”.

“In a medium-sized cell, the distance a molecule must travel from the point at which it synthesises to the membrane itself is comparable, relatively, to the distance between Madrid and Cádiz. For this journey there are mediators, both during and at the point of arrival, where they carry out a fundamental role in docking the signalling proteins in the appropriate cellular context”, adds fellow CSIC researcher, Armando Albert, from the IQFR.

CAR proteins are one such mediator, playing a central role in the regulation of the plant’s adaptive response to environmental stresses.

This research sheds light on an as yet not fully resolved question in plant biology, and could lead to interventions to improve resistance to drought, for instance.

Read the paper in PNAS: Calcium-dependent oligomerization of CAR proteins at cell membrane modulates ABA signaling.

Article source: R&I World - also available in Spanish at the UPV website

Image credit: UPV


Flood, drought and disease tolerant -- one gene to rule them all

An international collaboration between researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Nagoya University and the University of Western Australia has resulted in a breakthrough in plant biology. Since 2014, the researchers have worked on identifying the genetic background for the improved flood tolerance observed in rice, wheat and several natural wetland plants. In a New Phytologist, article, the researchers describe the discovery of a single gene that controls the surface properties of rice, rendering the leaves superhydrophobic.

Plants overcome hunger with the aid of autophagy

Researchers at Tohoku University have found that plants activate autophagy in their leaf cells to derive amino acids that are used for survival under energy-starved "hunger" conditions. The findings show that amino acid utilization in plants can be controlled by the manipulation of autophagy.

The Alps are home to more than 3,000 lichens

Historically, the Alps have always played an emblematic role, being one of the largest continuous natural areas in Europe. With its numerous habitats, the mountain system is easily one of the richest biodiversity hotspots in Europe.