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Scientists knew that a pigment found in leaves of thale cress plants, phytochrome B (PHYB), is excited by both the red wavelengths of light that drive photosynthesis, as well as the near infrared light that is enriched in shady spots.
The discovery was made by a team of academics at the University of Leeds as they studied the DNA of the thale cress plant.
Atkinson's research focuses on how the Iron Regulated Transporter 1 (IRT1) in the thale cress plant, which is closely related to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussells sprouts, absorbs essential nutrients like iron and harmful, cancer-causing metals like cadmium.
Researchers there have enhanced a thale cress plant, an herb from the mustard family, to have a higher tolerance to heat and light stress.
Caption: Now that they've planted thousands of Drummond's rock cress plants at various elevations at Colorado's Rocky Mountain Biological Lab, researchers will simulate the earlier springs expected with climate change by shoveling snow off some plants.
Cress plants fitted with bacterial genes cranked out PHB, although the yields were poor.
Computer models of cress plants genes showed how 12 genes work together to set plants' internal clocks, University of Edinburgh researchers said.