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CSIC scientists create a mathematical model that predicts the response of plants to climate change

CSIC scientists create a mathematical model that predicts the response of plants to climate change

Aug. 24 () –

Researchers of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) have created a mathematical model based on temperature-regulated processes in plants that can predict crop response to global warming.

In this research, published in the magazine ‘Science Advances’the fundamental role of the COP1 protein as a growth promoter Arabidopsis plants in long days and high environmental temperatures and its interaction with other cellular factors. This discovery could help avoid the adverse effects of climate change on summer crops.

This research is the result of collaboration between groups led by Salome Prat and Saul Ares in the National Center for Biotechnology belonging to the CSIC (CNB-CSIC) and Paul Catalan of Interdisciplinary Group of Complex Systems (GISC) of the Carlos III University of Madrid.

The data obtained in the study have served to develop a mathematical model that relates the active levels of cellular factors regulated by light and temperature with the growth of the embryonic stem (the hypocotyl).

For the CSIC researcher currently at the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG), Salomé Prat, the importance of this work goes beyond the characterization of the molecular bases of thermomorphogenesis.

“Cultivated species show a very low genetic variability in terms of their ability to adapt to high ambient temperatures, which decrease their production. Here we show that more active forms of COP1 improve the climate change tolerance of crops that require long days.“, indicates the researcher.

Plants adapt their development and morphology to the environmental conditions that surround them, fundamentally, the duration of the day and the ambient temperature. These two factors directly affect crop yields, hence the interest of the scientific community in their study.

When detecting an increase in temperature, the first response of the plant is the hypocotyl elongationto facilitate the cooling of the leaves and minimize the damage caused by heat.

“Using several mutant lines of Arabidopsis under various conditions of light and temperature, we were able to fit the parameters of the equations with the experimental data of hypocotyl length and one of the most interesting predictions of the model is the one that highlights that the maximum activity of COP1 takes place during the day and at high temperatures”explains Ares.

Temperature promotes plant growth and light inhibits it. In summer, when the days are longer and warmer, plants receive conflicting information and have to decide which signal to heed.

“Until now, COP1 had been described as a fundamental factor to regulate growth in the this prediction was unusual,” says Cristina Nieto, first author of the work and currently a researcher at the National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA-CSIC).

“We decided to simulate hypocotyl growth for a range of COP1 activity values ​​and We experimentally verified the predictions obtained with mutants where COP1 did not work well or with plants that accumulated an excess of the protein. Thanks to this study, we now know that the COP1 protein is key to regulating the response to temperature on long days, that is, in summer,” he says.

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