Synthetic phytochrome lets plants grow in the dark
Researchers from Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT - Karlsruhe) and Japan have published a study describing the use of a synthetic photoreceptor, 15Ea-phycocyanobilin (15Ea-PCB), to stimulate germination and development in plants. The synthetic molecule had the same red and far-red light absorbing properties as natural phytochromes in plants. In moss plants grown in the dark and “fed” with 15Ea-phycocyanobilin, chlorophyll accumulation increased, gravitropism was altered and side branches grew. Seed germination, hypocotyl elongation and cotyledon opening of thale cress plants treated in the same way was similar to responses from untreated plants grown under natural daylight conditions.