To Make Precision Medicine, Scientists Study the Circadian Rhythms in Plants

To Make Precision Medicine, Scientists Study the Circadian Rhythms in Plants

Biologists are taking a close look at how precisely calibrated timekeepers in organisms influence plant-pathogen interactions

Plants are keeping time. (Hua Lu, CC BY-ND)

By Hua Lu and Linda Wiratan, The Conversation

smithsonian.com 81251575

At dusk, the leaves of the tamarind tree close, waiting for another dawn. Androsthenes, a ship captain serving under Alexander the Great, made the first written account of these leaf movements in the fourth century B.C.

It took centuries longer to discover that he was describing the effects of the circadian clock. This internal time-sensing mechanism allows many living organisms to keep track of time and coordinate their behaviors along 24-hour cycles. It follows the regular day/night and seasonal cycles of Earth’s daily rotation. Circadian research has advanced so far that the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was awarded for the groundbreaking work that elucidated the molecular basis underlying circadian rhythms