Research into internal plant clocks aims to help crop resilience

As human beings, our senses, ability to move and basic instincts, allow us to protect ourselves against a range of factors, such as harsh weather conditions and give us a sense of time. This sense of time is also coordinated by our internal time keeping mechanism known as “Circadian Clock”. All living organisms, including plants possess circadian clocks, which help them to keep a track of time even without the day to night cues.

The Leverhulme Trust has awarded £268,307 to Canterbury Christ Church University and Dr Naeem Syed, Senior Lecturer in Plant Biology in the School of Human and Life Sciences, to research the resilience of plants and how they adapt to a changing environment.

Circadian clocks control almost one third of plant genes and have a massive effect on plant activities including photosynthesis, response to drought and disease.

Recent research has discovered that a process known as alternative splicing occurs in plant clock genes. Alternative splicing allows organisms to potentially make multiple proteins to undertake different functions for survival.

Dr Syed said: “Plant clock genes control almost all functions of a plant, especially responses to harsh environmental conditions such as drought, disease and high temperatures. Alternative splicing not only fine tunes the functions of plant clock genes but also of other genes involved in drought and higher temperature tolerance.”

“Further research into the process of alternative splicing in relation to plant clock genes needs to be done to understand just how vital the process is for plant survival. The outcome of the research will progress the information currently being discussed in the alternative splicing and plant clock gene research community and potentially develop more resilient crop plants for the future.”

Notes to Editor

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With 17,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2013/14 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

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Last edited: 14/12/2018 23:10:00