Posted February 18, 2022, 10 :54 am
A machine with sharp gears, a long rod of metal sounds like a kitchen blender. But this machine is far from your kitchen appliance.
“This is a tissue homogenizer,” said Jesse Woodson, an associate
professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Plant Sciences.
The “very fancy blender” is part of a project conducted by scientists
The University of Arizona is the best place to learn about how plants communicate with one another. The ultimate
Our goal is to engineer plants so that they can survive in a warmer environment.
“We want to be able to establish communication with plants,” Woodson
said. “And in order to do that, we need to know how plants are thinking
about their environment and be able to sense their environment.”
Woodson and his student team are part a larger network that includes researchers. The National Science FoundationIn October, a $25 million grant
Teams from the University of Arizona, Cornell University, and the Boyce Thompson
Both the University of Illinois and the Institute in New York City are both part of the Institute
Urbana-Champaign will study plant communication in the hopes of modifying
plants for a future environment that’s likely to be warmer and drier.
Their research is part of the foundation’s new Center for Research on
Programmable Plant Systems, or CROPPS. The scientists are currently working on
It is possible to better predict and manipulate the agricultural sector at the molecular level.
According to the National
Science Foundation. The transdisciplinary effort brings together
Engineers, scientists, and computer scientists collaborate to create electronic devices
Systems that monitor and control the plant’s responses.
The University of Arizona was awarded $3.5 Million
To study the plant genes and their biological reactions to them
environment. The team will use data analytics but as the project begins
They want to understand the language and culture of plants first.
Despite not being audible, plants communicate with each other all the time.
“They might be sending those signals internally within the body of
the plant to help the shoots understand what’s going on in the roots,”
Rebecca Mosher is the University of Arizona’s lead investigator in the CROPPS research project. “They might be sending those signals to microbes in the soil
To recruit those microbes. So we want to understand these.
Signals so that we may tap into them and communicate
These internal signals are similar in nature to the signals that our brains send.
When we are under stress or in dire need of nutrition. Woodson stated,
Plants lack the same response as humans. Plants can’t move.
“If we want to get away from something, we can run away. But a plant
has to stay there and they have to deal with whatever happens,” he said.
“So if it’s a hot day, it’s a dry day, there’s too much sun, if there’s
If the plant doesn’t get enough sunlight, it must take steps to compensate.
When the plant is forced to grow in one spot, it creates a “survival
guide” that it passes down to the next plant, which then learns how to
Conserve resources and adapt your environment.
“You can’t always go by the looks or how big its brain is, but how
It is capable of adjusting itself to improve the environment and work with it in
which it has to live,” Woodson said. “It’s going to have to deal with
They do this at a very basic genetic level. They require a lot of genes and a lot more genes.
information stored in those cells to be able to grow and do well.”
Experimenting to Understand
Before the plants —which include rice and soybeans —enter the lab,
They are grown in greenhouses on the roofs of parking garages south of the city.
Tucson campus. In those greenhouses, the plants’ environment is altered.
“We might give it very high light or lots of heat, a whole variety of
abiotic stresses,” Mosher said. “We can also infect it with pathogens,
So biotic stress. And then we’ll collect that tissue and take it into
Inside the lab, the team extracts cells using different methods –
From spinning plants in the centrifuge to jostling their heads in vials full of them
With beads. The researchers then examine cells under the microscope.
The tissue homogenizer – a rod with sharp teeth at the end – is one
One of the most important devices used by researchers because it cuts through
the tough plant tissue to get to a plant’s cells. These cells contain
Chloroplasts, which sense light in its environment, are responsible for detecting it.
Environment and performing photosynthesis
“A lot of what we’re trying to look at is how components within
cells, how cells do photosynthesis and respond to the environment,”
Woodson said. “This homogenizer is basically a very fancy blender that
Break open cells to access the chloroplasts.
experiments in the lab.”
Cristian Salazar De Leon, one of the graduate students on Woodson’s
team, said that the chloroplasts can reveal a lot more about how plants react to certain conditions
High heat situations
“Most of us look into a pathway where chloroplasts do the
photosynthesis in plant cells (and look at) how they’re recycled, how
they’re damaged and how the plant deals with those damaged cells,”
Salazar De Leon said.
Scientists can then determine which genes are responsible.
Cross-pollinate to help the plant thrive in harsh environments.
Plants will respond in a similar way. Salazar De Leon aims to prove it
Eliminating a gene that encodes for a certain enzyme can cause death
plant. He hopes to discover these patterns in other plants.
“This is just like one piece of an entire biochemical pathway that
allows plants to be able to respond to UV light stress,” he said.
Arizona’s climate perfect for testing
Each university that is NSF-funded has its own lab.
testing, Arizona’s climate offers a unique environment for
“Our environment is incredibly hot, incredibly arid, the world is
going to be turning more and more like Arizona as the planet heats up,”
According to the Weather Underground, last year was the sixth-warmest ever recorded. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
And 2020 was even hotter – it was the second warmest year on record.
December 2021 was the fifth warmest December in 142.
Temperatures rise due to human activity
These experiments with plants could aid scientists in global warming research
Future crops and plants that are more resilient to future shocks will receive better support
“If we can understand how plants grow with limited water in really
We may be able to create new breeds in hot environments.
would be able to grow better,” Woodson said.
The University of Arizona project will be completed in five years. More research
Scientists believe they could learn more about plants and how to care for them.
Climate change adaptation
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