IISER scientists identify the gene that greens plants

Source: The Hindu

News: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have identified a gene called “BBX11”.

Facts:

  • BBX11: It is a gene that facilitates in the greening of plants by playing a crucial role in regulating the levels of protochlorophyllide — an intermediate in the biosynthesis of the green pigment chlorophyll.

What is Chlorophyll? It is a pigment that gives plants their green color and it helps plants create their own food through photosynthesis ( a process by which light energy is converted to chemical energy through the synthesis of organic compounds).

Role of BBX11 in the Synthesis of Chlorophyll: The synthesis of chlorophyll in plants is a lengthy, multi-step process:

  • When a seedling emerges from under the soil it must quickly synthesize chlorophyll to start supporting its own growth.
  • In order to facilitate quick synthesis of chlorophyll, plants make a precursor of chlorophyll called ‘protochlorophyllide’ in the dark which glows red when blue light is shone on the plant.
  • As soon as the plant comes out into the light from under the soil, light-dependent enzymes convert protochlorophyllide to chlorophyll.
  • However, if there is excess of free protochlorophyllide, then exposure to light converts it into molecules that cause ‘photobleaching’.
  • Thus, it is very important to regulate the amount of protochlorophyllide synthesized by the plant and here comes the vital plant played by the ‘BBX11’
  • If it is less, plants are unable to efficiently ‘green’ in order to harvest sunlight. If the amount of protochlorophyllide is more, then plants bleach under the light.

Significance of the study: This study could have tremendous implications in the agriculture sector in tropical countries like India and can help provide leads to optimise plant growth under stressful and rapidly changing climatic conditions.

 

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