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Plants Forget Stressful Weather Events to Rapidly Recover

09:28 EDT 7 Aug 2017 | Meridian Institute

Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) have found that plants have the ability to forget stressful weather events to rapidly recover. "Plants have evolved over millennia to endure periods of drought, blistering sun and heat, among other environmental stresses," said Barry Pogson, a senior researcher. "We found that plants are able to recover phenomenally well from some environmental stresses by quickly resetting to the pre-stress state. Stress is very important because it has a big effect on chloroplasts, which play a vital role in the process by which plants make their own food." Adds lead author Peter Crisp: "Plants do indeed learn to live in harsh and changing environments, and learning to forget stress rapidly is just one of the ways they achieve this. A vital aspect of a plant's recovery is the transition from defence to growth, which involves resetting the expression of genes back to a pre-stress state." The findings, says Crisp, are an important step toward having a comprehensive understanding of how food crops can thrive in different environments. "We may be able to speed up the recovery process of food crops around the world that endure unpredictable daily changes in weather," he said. "Now that we know that plants can learn to forget stressful events to recover quickly, we need to find out how they do it and identify ways to improve the recovery process." The team’s findings were published in the journal The Plant Cell.

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