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Plants use sugar to tell the time, says York expert
8:00am Thursday 24th October 2013 in News
PLANTS can tell the time of day by using sugars, according to research involving a York scientist.
Dr Mike Haydon, who now works at the University of York, was part of a team from the University of Cambridge’s department of plant sciences which studied how plants can set and maintain their internal 24-hour clock known as the circadian rhythm. It gives them the ability to measure time even when there is no light, and to know sunrise is coming and adjust their biology rather than reacting to it.
The research, published in the Nature journal, said plants’ ability to keep time gives them “an important competitive advantage” and is vital to flowering, fragrance emission and leaf movement. They produce sugar through photosynthesis and the studies showed this plays a role in circadian rhythms.
Dr Haydon, who carried out much of the research and is now based at the University of York’s department of biology, said the system was “a bit like resetting a stopwatch”, saying: “This mirrors research which has shown feeding times can influence the phase of peripheral clocks in animals.”
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