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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
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An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Long Day's Journey into Flower
17 April 2003 (All day)
Despite their differences, rice and the commonly studied mustard weed share closely related flowering mechanisms. The finding suggests that there may be a common flowering control among plants. The finding might eventually allow scientists to manipulate genes in rice and other crops to enhance production.
Arabidopsis thaliana has been a popular model plant with biologists. Sequencing the Arabidopsis genome in 2000 helped researchers pinpoint three genes that compel it to flower. The weed doesn't blossom until daylight lingers during spring and summer days, making it a "long-day" plant. Geneticists working with rice, a "short-day" plant, wanted to know whether it relied on the same genes to flower.
The answer, researchers from Japan's Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Ikoma and the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Ibaraki found, was mostly yes: The same three genes helped guide flowering in rice and Arabidopsis. The team did find one key difference, however. In Arabidopsis, a gene called GIGANTEA activates a light-sensitive gene that sets off the blossom-triggering gene. In rice, GIGANTEA suppresses these two, the team reports in the 17 April issue of Nature. Rice geneticist Ko Shimamoto, the lead author, foresees manipulating this genetic pathway, which could extend the growing season or provide ornamental flowers year-round. Shimamoto cautions, however, that other conditions such as temperature will play a role in flowering behavior.
Gordon Simpson of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, U.K., says the ability to change plants' lighting preferences won't come soon, but that this work "validates Arabidopsis as a model" for other plants. In addition, says evolutionary biologist Johanna Schmitt of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, the research demonstrates that "you have conservation of the same pathway in very different organisms," but that a small difference in how genes function leaves the plants reacting very differently to light.