Circadian-Controlled Pathways Facilitate Adaptation to a Changing Environment


Plants and other organisms synchronize their internal processes with the environment through circadian clocks to cope with natural cycles of light and temperature. These temporal rhythms coordinate physiological and metabolic processes with daily and seasonal changes by helping coordinate gene expression that enable organisms to adapt. Researchers at Oregon State University and collaborators used a combination of genomics and bioinformatics technologies to investigate daily rhythms in gene expression in the monocot plant rice and the dicot plant poplar. They compared their findings to work previously performed in the model plant Arabidopsis. They found a high degree of conservation across the three species among the cycling patterns of many circadian clock genes. This new research indicates that a core regulatory network is conserved across higher plants, although some cases of species-specific diurnal/circadian-associated regulatory circuits were observed. The findings have implications for engineering plants with enhanced vigor, fitness, and adaptation to changing environments. The research was supported in part by the joint USDA-DOE Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy program.


Filichkin, S. A., G. Breton, H. D. Priest, P. Dharmawardhana, P. Jaiswal, S. E. Fox, T. P. Michael, J. Chory, S. A. Kay, and T. C. Mockler. 2011. “Global Profiling of Rice and Poplar Transcriptomes Highlights Key Conserved Circadian-Controlled Pathways and cis-Regulatory Modules,” PLoS ONE 6(6):e16907. (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016907)