Sunlight and Survival

Here comes the sun: Cellular sensor helps plants find light

Salk Institute

sALK

 

 In the stem of the Arabidopsis plant, the light-sensitive receptor CRY2 (yellow) spurs a plant to begin a growth cycle and avoid shade. view more

Credit: Salk Institute

LA JOLLA — (Dec. 24, 2015) Despite seeming passive, plants wage wars with each other to outgrow and absorb sunlight. If a plant is shaded by another, it becomes cut off from essential sunlight it needs to survive.

To escape this deadly shade, plants have light sensors that can set off an internal alarm when threatened by the shade of other plants. Their sensors can detect depletion of red and blue light (wavelengths absorbed by vegetation) to distinguish between an aggressive nearby plant from a passing cloud. Read more.