"This is the first time we have been able to
quantify a plant's ability to protect itself against high light intensity," said
Professor Alexander Ruban, co-author of the study and Head of the Cell and
Molecular Biology Division at Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical
Professor Ruban added: "A changing climate will lead
to fluctuations in temperature, humidity, drought and light. Knowing the limits
of how much sunlight a crop can happily tolerate could be valuable information
for farmers or people who breed new plants."
Publishing in the journal Philosophical Transactions
of the Royal Society B today (Monday 3 March) the scientists demonstrate a novel
method that enables them to relate the photoprotective
capacity of a plant to the intensity of environmental light by measuring the
fluorescence of the pigment chlorophyll, which is responsible for absorbing
Co-author Erica Belgio, also at Queen Mary's School
of Biological and Chemical Science said: "The plants we used to measure the
light varied in their capacity to protect themselves against high levels of
intensity. We exposed them to gradually increasing levels of light, from the
sunlight more common on a rainy day to the light you would find at noon on
summer's day in the south of France and recorded the responses."
The researchers found the plants grown without the
ability to respond quickly to high light intensity had a reduced capacity to
protect themselves from damage.
"The photosynthetic apparatus in the
plants is like the retina in human eyes – it is sensitive to how much
light can be soaked up," commented Professor Ruban.
Source: Physorg URL: