Biological clock discovery gives insight to farmers
Argentine researchers have discovered the intervention of protein PMRT5 can alter the biological clocks of agricultural cultivars, reported Infouniversidades.siu.edu.ar.
The researchers from Buenos Aires University, government agency Conicet and the Leloir Institute found the protein could regulate the biological clocks of organisms through the application of molecular biology techniques.
For humans the group of genes that make up the biological clock control sleeping patterns, body temperature, heart performance, oxygen consumption and the rhythms of secretion, the story reported. In the case of plants, these genes regulate the timing of photosynthesis or blooming, among other functions.
"The identification of the protein PRMT5 is relevant due to the role it plays in the regulation of those rhythms," Leloir Institute Laboratory of Genetics director Marcelo Yanovsky told the website.
The researchers discovered the importance of the PMRT5 protein after recording successful results from cabbage and fruit fly tests.
"What we saw is that the plants and flies which had the mutant gene PRMT5 presented a series of alterations in their behavior. The internal clock was altered. Differently to normal plants, whose physiological functions answer to 24 hours cycles, the mutant presented a cycle of 27 hours," the researchers were quoted as saying.
"On the other hand, normal flies are more active at dawn, take a nap in the evening and then sleep all night. Those which had the mutant gene had a sustained activity during the day and night, as if they don’t sleep or hardly sleep."
The discovery is an important step in research towards knowledge of how all genes contribute to the biological clock, as that information could be applied to assist plant blossoming, the story reported.
"In the case of corn, it is key that when the plant blossoms there is water; if the flowering period coincides with a dryness, the production of the cultivation could be disastrous," Yanovsky told Infouniversidades.
"We are interested in understanding the mechanisms of the clock, because we believe that understanding them we will contribute to improve that synchrony and the productive aspects of the agricultural area."
"The fact of knowing the clock pieces and the articulation between them allows the clockmaker to adjust those ‘apparatus’ so that they function more adequately. It is impossible not to make a parallelism between that work and that of genetic engineers in the future," another researcher told the website.
Photo: Flickr, Ben Seidelman