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Manipulating bio-clock of plants can up food output

Washington:  Scientists have identified a key genetic gear in plants which help keep their circadian clock ticking, a finding they say could lead to modifying plants that can grow in different seasons and places, boosting global food output.

The circadian clock is the internal timekeeper found in almost all organisms that helps synchronize biological processes with day and night. In plants, this clock is crucial for adjusting growth to both time and day and to the seasons.

The clock operates through the cooperative relationship between "morning" genes and "evening" genes. Proteins encoded by the morning genes suppress evening genes at daybreak, but by nightfall levels of these proteins drop and evening genes are activated.

Intriguingly, these evening genes are necessary to turn on morning genes completing the 24-hour cycle. Now, researchers identified a gene, called DET1, which plays a crucial role in suppressing expression of the evening genes. "Plants that make less DET1 have a faster clock and they take less time to flower," said lead author On Sun Lau.

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