As we push the limits of agriculture to feed more people in a warmer world, we do not understand how plants sense temperature.
In a surprising turn of events, scientists at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina and Washington University in St. Louis have just learned that plant light sensors also respond to temperature.
Plants contain specialized light-sensitive proteins that change shape when they absorb light, much as do the photopigments in the human eye. All plants have three main red-light photoreceptors, called phytochrome A, B and C.
As part of an effort to create plants that can tolerate different growth conditions, Richard Vierstra, the George and Charmaine Mallinckrodt Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University has been developing a library of phytochrome B mutants, including ones that are much more or less sensitive to light than the wild type plant.
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