The seedling on the right was fed with a synthetic photoreceptor and opens it cotyledons.
In the dark control (left seedling), they remain closed. (Figure: T. Lamparter, KIT)
Plant Growth Without Light Control
(May 17, 2012) Synthetic Photoreceptor Stimulates Germination and Development Irrespective of Exposure to Light / Results of Researchers from Japan and Karlsruhe Are Published in The Plant Cell Journal.
Plants are dependent on the sun. Sunlight does not only supply them with energy, but also controls their development steps. So-called photoreceptors activate the processes of germination, leaf development, bud formation, and blossoming in the cells. The light-absorbing component of a photoreceptor may be replaced by a chemically similar synthetic substance. For the first time, the effects on complete plants are now described in the The Plant Cell journal (DOI: 10.1105/tpc.111.094656).
“The plants developed in the dark as if they were in light,” says the Director of the studies Tilman Lamparter, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The seeds and seedlings of thale cress were fed with a synthetic substance named “15Ea-phycocyanobilin". In the plant cell, this substance replaces the natural, photoactive component of the photoreceptor, the “phytochromobilin". Incorporation of 15Ea-PCB activates the photoreceptor and the plant is made believe it is exposed to light. In spite of the darkness, model plants germinate and grow similar to a control group exposed to light. “It was shown for the first time that synthetic substances can cause light effects in entire plants.”