Mechanism identified for plants to recover from heat stress

High temperature damage to crops has been increasing with climate change, according to scientists.
By Amy Wallace  |  Aug. 21, 2017 at 3:38 PM
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Aug. 21 (UPI) -- A team of researchers from the University of Amherst, including Chinese and Indian biochemists, have discovered how plants adapt quickly to heat stress to survive.

Identifying the mechanisms of heat tolerance on plants is important because high temperature damage to crops is increasing due to climate change.

"One of our most interesting findings is the fact that stressed plants not only need to produce new proteins to survive the stress, they need to make them right away," Elizabeth Vierling, molecular biologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in a press release.

"We found that a delay of even six hours of new protein translation will inhibit optimal growth and reproduction. The plants might not outright die, but they are severely impaired without the rapid synthesis of these new proteins."

Researchers used biochemical and next-generation sequencing methods to examine changes in protein translation and gene expression in wild type Arabidopsis plants and in mutants that have lost their ability to survive high temperatures.

The study found that the mutated gene specifies a "translation factor," a protein required by all organisms including humans, to synthesize other proteins.

"So we found out more about the general, universal process of protein translation," the study authors wrote. "Ours is the first study of this type investigating this aspect of protein synthesis. It was significant to find that this translation factor is needed for recovery of plants from stress, and that it may have a previously unrecognized role in translating specific proteins."

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