23. November 2023 | Press releases:

How plants reduce stress Braunschweig researchers discover new hormone signalling pathway

A team of plant biologists at Technische Universität Braunschweig and the Julius Kühn Institute Braunschweig has decoded a gene that controls stress reduction in plants. Environmental factors can induce stress, which restricts the growth and reproduction of plants. In order to better adapt to environmental situations, such as a changing climate, plants can improve their chances of survival by regulating stress. These new findings, published in the renowned journal “Nature Communications”, have important implications for agriculture and plant breeding.

Plants are naturally tied to their location and cannot migrate to escape adverse environmental conditions. Over the course of evolution, they have therefore developed sophisticated mechanisms to adapt to the various factors of their habitat. For example, seeds will only germinate if the external conditions are right. And after germination, the plant must be able to respond to changing environmental conditions, such as drought stress (caused by a lack of water). Such decision-making processes are controlled by hormonal signalling pathways.

The research group led by Professor Theo Lange (Technische Universität Braunschweig) and Dr Pimenta Lange (Julius Kühn Institute) has now deciphered the crucial function of the GAS2 gene in the model plant Arabidopsis. The gene controls a specific signalling pathway that degrades the stress hormone abscisic acid. This pathway enables seeds to germinate and also to survive, for example under drought stress.

The results now open up new possibilities for developing strategies to optimise the germination of crops and at the same time increase their resistance to stress factors. Especially in times of climate change, such strategies could be of great practical use in plant breeding and agriculture.


Theo Lange, Nadiem Atiq, Maria João Pimenta Lange: GAS2 encodes a 2-oxoglutarate dependent dioxygenase involved in ABA catabolism. Nature Communications.