Scientists have identified a gene in plant cells that explains why immunity falters with rising heat, and demonstrate optimizing the expression of this gene could restore the production of the plant defense hormone, salicylic acid, and bolster immunity in plants against heat waves. If their finding in the plant model Arabidopsis, holds true in crops, it would go a long way to ensure food security in a warming world.
Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Freising, Germany, have discovered an alternative mode of promoting heat resistance in plants. They found the activity of the plant steroid hormone, brassinosteroid, which is regulated by the transcription factor BES1, can also stimulate the conserved heat shock response pathways through BES1. The authors showed BES1 is rapidly activated by heat stress and presents a model for heat shock response when BES1 cooperates with heat shock factors to promote protection against heat stress to ensure plant survival.
As the climate on our planet becomes drier, it is important to understand how crops can be grown on arid, nutrient-poor soil under harsh environmental conditions such as intense radiation, high salinity and large fluctuations of temperatures. Toward this aim, an international team of scientists have collected, sequenced and analyzed dominant plant species and soil microbes at different vegetational areas and elevations in the Atacama Desert in Chile.