Plants need to avoid carbon starvation and resultant growth inhibition under fluctuating light environments to ensure optimal growth and reproduction. As diel patterns of carbon metabolism are influenced by the circadian clock, appropriate regulation of the clock is essential for plants to properly manage their carbon resources. For proper adjustment of the circadian phase, higher plants utilize environmental signals such as light or temperature and metabolic signals such as photosynthetic products; the importance of the latter as phase regulators has been recently elucidated. A mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana that is deficient in phase response to sugar has been shown, under fluctuating light conditions, to be unable to adjust starch turnover and to realize carbon homeostasis. Whereas, the effects of light entrainment on growth and survival of higher plants are well studied, the impact of phase regulation by sugar remains unknown. Here we show that endogenous sugar entrainment facilitates plant growth. We integrated two mathematical models, one describing the dynamics of carbon metabolism in A. thaliana source leaves and the other growth of sink tissues dependent on sucrose translocation from the source. The integrated model predicted that sugar-sensitive plants grow faster than sugar-insensitive plants under constant as well as changing photoperiod conditions. We found that sugar entrainment enables efficient carbon investment for growth by stabilizing sucrose supply to sink tissues. Our results highlight the importance of clock entrainment by both exogenous and endogenous signals for optimizing growth and increasing fitness.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science