February 26, 2024

Extremophytes: “Extreme” Plants Grow Faster in the Face of Stress

Schrenkiella parvulais a plant that can grow– even grow– in incredibly salty conditions. Researchers in the Dinneny laboratory study this plant to comprehend this unique adaptation and how they might be able to modify other plants to endure likewise difficult environments. Schrenkiella parvula, a scraggly, branching member of the mustard family, not just makes it through but grows in conditions that would eliminate most plants.” Most plants produce a stress hormone that acts like a stop signal for growth,” stated José Dinneny, an associate professor of biology at Stanford, who is senior author of the paper. If these plants can be adjusted to grow in harsher environmental conditions, there would be more land available for cultivating them.

Schrenkiella parvulais a plant that can grow– even thrive– in extremely salted conditions. Scientists in the Dinneny laboratory study this plant to comprehend this unique adjustment and how they might be able to customize other plants to hold up against likewise stressful environments. Credit: José Dinneny
When plants are faced with conditions that are too dry, salty, or cold, the majority of them attempt to conserve resources. They send fewer roots and leaves and close up their pores to hold in water. They ultimately pass away if situations do not enhance.
Some plants, understood as extremophytes, have actually evolved to make it through in extreme environments. Schrenkiella parvula, a scraggly, branching member of the mustard household, not only grows however makes it through in conditions that would eliminate most plants.
” Most plants produce a stress hormonal agent that imitates a stop signal for development,” said José Dinneny, an associate teacher of biology at Stanford, who is senior author of the paper. “But in this extremophyte, its a thumbs-up. The plant accelerates its development in action to this tension hormone.”

Image of an S. parvula root taken with a confocal microscopic lense. Credit: Prashanth Ramachandran
Dinneny and his associates are studying Schrenkiella parvula to find out more about how some plants deal with unfavorable conditions. Their findings could assist researchers in engineering crops that have the ability to grow in lower-quality soil and adapt to the tensions of environment modification.
” With climate change, we cant anticipate the environment to stay the very same,” said Ying Sun, a postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute who earned her doctorate at Stanford and is a lead author on the paper. “Our crops are going to have to adjust to these quickly changing conditions. If we can understand the systems that plants utilize to tolerate tension, we can help them do it better and faster.”
An unforeseen action
Schrenkiella parvula belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which contains cabbage, broccoli, turnips, and other crucial food crops In areas where environment modification is expected to increase the period and intensity of dry spells, it would be valuable if these crops had the ability to weather and even grow in those droughts.
When plants encounter dry, salty, or cold conditions– all of which develop water-related stress– they produce a hormonal agent called abscisic acid, or ABA. While the other plants growth slowed or stopped, the roots of Schrenkiella parvula grew substantially much faster.
Schrenkiella parvula is closely associated to the other plants in the study and has a very similar-sized genome, but ABA is activating various sections of its hereditary code to develop a completely various behavior.
” That rewiring of that network discusses, a minimum of partly, why were getting these different growth responses in stress-tolerant types,” Dinneny said.
Engineering future crops.
Understanding this tension response– and how to engineer it in other types– could assist more than simply food crops, Dinneny stated. Schrenkiella parvula is also related to a number of oilseed species that have the prospective to be engineered and used as sustainable sources of jet fuel or other biofuels. If these plants can be adapted to grow in harsher ecological conditions, there would be more land available for cultivating them.
” You want to be growing bioenergy crops on land that is not appropriate for growing food– state, an agricultural field that has broken down soil or has actually accumulated salinity due to the fact that of improper watering,” Dinneny said. “These areas are not prime farming realty, but land that would be abandoned otherwise.”
Dinneny and his colleagues are continuing to examine the network of reactions that could assist plants survive in severe conditions. Now that they have an idea of how Schrenkiella parvula sustains its growth in the face of minimal water and high salinity, they will try to engineer related plants to be able to do the very same by tweaking which genes are triggered by ABA.
” Were trying to comprehend what the secret sauce is for these plant species– what allows them to grow in these distinct environments, and how we can use this understanding to engineer particular qualities in our crops,” Dinneny stated.
Referral: “Divergence in the ABA gene regulatory network underlies differential growth control” by Ying Sun, Dong-Ha Oh, Lina Duan, Prashanth Ramachandran, Andrea Ramirez, Anna Bartlett, Kieu-Nga Tran, Guannan Wang, Maheshi Dassanayake and José R. Dinneny, 2 May 2022, Nature Plants.DOI: 10.1038/ s41477-022-01139-5.
Dinneny belongs to Stanford Bio-X; the Director of Graduate Studies and chair of the Graduate Studies Committee in Stanfords Biology Department; and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Extra Stanford co-authors of this research study include research associate Lina Duan, postdoctoral scholar Prashanth Ramachandran, and graduate trainee Andrea Ramirez. Other coauthors are from Louisiana State University and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the National Science Foundation, the Rural Development Association of South Korea, and the HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholars program.