Phytochrome-interacting factors directly suppress expression to enhance shade-avoidance syndrome in

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2017-08-24

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00404-y

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 7

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Research Highlight

Shady secrets of plants’ plight for light

© Yusuke Murata/DigitalVision/Getty

© Yusuke Murata/DigitalVision/Getty

Plants suffering in the shadow of obtrusive neighbours fight for their share of light thanks to fast acting proteins, but there’s a cost.

Densely packed plants compete for light and respond rapidly to shade by growing taller, tilting their leaves and flowering early. However, this survival system, known as ‘shade-avoidance syndrome’ (SAS), can weaken plants, reducing their ability to reproduce and withstand pests. How SAS is triggered is not fully understood.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences genetically modified Arabidopsis thaliana, or ‘thale cress’, to overexpress proteins called ‘phytochrome-interacting factors’ (PIFs) that respond to changing light levels. Under normal and high levels of light, the modified plants showed multiple characteristics of SAS. The team found that an increase in PIFs in response to shade prevents the activity of several MIR156 genes, which changes how the plants grow.

Controlling shade-avoidance syndrome in food plants could help farmers meet the demand to grow more crops on less land.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 8, 348 (2017). doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00404-y
Institutions Share
Biotechnology Research Institute (BRI), CAAS, China 0.93
Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GSCAAS), China 0.07