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PLoS One. 2014 Jun 13;9(6):e100072. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100072. eCollection 2014.

Daily changes in temperature, not the circadian clock, regulate growth rate in Brachypodium distachyon.

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  • 1Biology Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, United States of America; Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, United States of America.
  • 2Molecular and Computational Biology Section, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.
  • 3Biology Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Abstract

Plant growth is commonly regulated by external cues such as light, temperature, water availability, and internal cues generated by the circadian clock. Changes in the rate of growth within the course of a day have been observed in the leaves, stems, and roots of numerous species. However, the relative impact of the circadian clock on the growth of grasses has not been thoroughly characterized. We examined the influence of diurnal temperature and light changes, and that of the circadian clock on leaf length growth patterns in Brachypodium distachyon using high-resolution time-lapse imaging. Pronounced changes in growth rate were observed under combined photocyles and thermocycles or with thermocycles alone. A considerably more rapid growth rate was observed at 28°C than 12°C, irrespective of the presence or absence of light. In spite of clear circadian clock regulated gene expression, plants exhibited no change in growth rate under conditions of constant light and temperature, and little or no effect under photocycles alone. Therefore, temperature appears to be the primary cue influencing observed oscillations in growth rate and not the circadian clock or photoreceptor activity. Furthermore, the size of the leaf meristem and final cell length did not change in response to changes in temperature. Therefore, the nearly five-fold difference in growth rate observed across thermocycles can be attributed to proportionate changes in the rate of cell division and expansion. A better understanding of the growth cues in B. distachyon will further our ability to model metabolism and biomass accumulation in grasses.

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