Researchers from The University of Western Australia have published cutting-edge evidence that oxygen plays a much bigger role in the development of plants than was previously thought.
The availability of oxygen has shaped the evolution of plant and animal life. However much of what we know about oxygen and plant growth is limited to stress conditions such as waterlogging.
Now, thanks to research published this week in the prestigious journal Trends in Plant Science, scientists have a better understanding of how changes in oxygen availability can trigger plant development.
Dr Michael Considine from The UWA Institute of Agriculture and Department of Agriculture and Food WA who led the study, said the paper describes for the first time the critical functions of oxygen in coordinating events such as seed germination and emergence, through to flowering and fruit ripening.
“Increasing evidence points to the presence of niches of low-oxygen availability (hypoxia) within vital plant organs, which curate cellular processes during plant growth and development,” Dr Considine said.
“This is exciting because it shows that oxygen is not just important for survival but also for productivity. It appears that all of the major reproductive stages in the plant life cycle are regulated by the availability of oxygen.
“With a better understanding of this, we can start to target particular functions to improve crop productivity in normal conditions as well as stress.”
The paper Learning to breathe: Developmental phase transitions in oxygen status was published in the prestigious journal Trends in Plant Science. The research was supported by the Australian Research Council.
Dr Michael Considine (The UWA Institute of Agriculture) (+61 8) 6488 1783
Diana Boykett (Communications Officer, The UWA Institute of Agriculture) (+61 8) 6488 3756 / (+61 4) 04 152 262