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Rosario scientists identify the secret of “solar protection” in plants

Certain proteins participate in the defense against UV-B radiation in the leaves. They also perform other functions that could promote
Científicas de Rosario identifican el secreto de la “protección solar” en plantas
26 January, 2020

Plants need to absorb photons of sunlight to perform photosynthesis and generate energy to grow, but are also exposed to damage from ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation. Now, four scientists from Rosario identified a molecular factor that gives them resistance to these ravages.

Researchers from the Center for Photosynthetic and Biochemical Studies (CEFOBI) came to these results after experimenting with the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, a common model in plant physiology studies that shares genes with crops such as wheat and corn.

“ It should be seen whether this resistance to UV radiation in Arabidopsis is also observed in plants of agronomic interest. And if this were to happen, we would also have to study how the response of these plants would be in natural environments, given that all our experiments were carried out under controlled conditions in culture chamber,” the project director, Dr. Paula Casati, researcher at CEFOBI, who depends on the National University of Rosario (UNR) and CONICET.

Wise nature

As revealed by the magazine ‘Plant, Cell & Environment’, CEFOBI researchers evaluated the role of FAS1 and FAS2 proteins, which are part of the CAF-1 complex, which regulates the binding of certain proteins (histones) to the DNA that is being formed.

“ The leaves of plants deficient in FAS1 and FAS2 proteins appear to be more resistant to radiation,” said Casati, also CONICET researcher.

The authors of the study observed that the leaves of plants deficient in CAF-1 accumulate more pigments that protect them from radiation, have thicker walls and suffer less damage in the DNA, so they acquire greater resistance compared to wildplants . On the contrary, they also observed that the roots respond differently, and would not activate the same protective mechanisms.

“ These findings in different parts of the plant suggest that there would be a different regulation of UV responses mediated by these proteins in different tissues,” stressed Rosarina scientist, who won in 2017 the L’Oréal-UNESCO National Award “For Women in Science”.

“ On the other hand, the role of CAF1 in regulating cell wall synthesis can also be interesting as a biotechnological aspect for obtaining biofuels,” Casati said.

Three other CEFOBI scientists participated in the work: Evangelina Maulión (first author of the study), María Sol Gómez and Claudia Bustamante.


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