Plant Science

Breathing in the dark

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Science  18 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6352, pp. 657
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6352.657-a

Pineapple's water-thriftiness genes could help other crops.

PHOTO: NARVIKK/ISTOCK

Plants that use crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) are often succulents. They tend to be drought-tolerant and thrifty with water. Thus, the CO2 uptake pores, or stomata, on the leaves are open during the cool nighttime when evapotranspiration rates are lower. Nonetheless, CAM is found in only a minority of plants. Wai et al. have mapped how the genes underlying CAM are deployed in the pineapple, with an eye toward transferring CAM and its attendant water use efficiency into other crop plants. Expression of key enzymes and regulatory microRNAs varied according to time of day. Sucrose was transported from source to sink in the morning, and at night, sucrose transport occurred in the opposite direction.

Plant J. 10.1111/tpj.13630 (2017).

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