from the plant-based-science dept.
New research led by an Iowa State University agronomist identifies clear patterns in how plants react to different environments that could lead to new ways of predicting crop performance.
The research focuses on flowering time in sorghum, a globally cultivated cereal plant, but the results could have implications for nearly all crops, said Jianming Yu, professor of agronomy and the Pioneer Distinguished Chair in Maize Breeding. The study, published recently in the peer-reviewed academic journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on phenotypic plasticity, or the way plant traits respond to environmental factors.
[...] The three geographical regions in the study presented a wide range of environmental conditions, and, at first, the data presented no obvious patterns, he said. But when the researchers zeroed in on "photothermal time," a window of time that's crucial to a plant's development when it processes the environmental cues of sunlight and temperature, everything fell into place.
[...] "Not just the overall performance and its prediction, this represents an elegant framework in which scientists can better understand the intricate dynamics of gene effects, the ups and downs, along this environmental gradient," Yu said.