Effects of weak static magnetic fields on the gene expression of seedlings of Arabidopsis thaliana.

Research paper by Sunil K SK Dhiman, Paul P Galland

Indexed on: 11 Sep '18Published on: 11 Sep '18Published in: Journal of Plant Physiology


Magnetic-field reception of animals and plants is currently discussed in the framework of a cryptochrome-based radical-pair mechanism. Efforts to unravel magnetoreception in plants suffered historically from several shortcomings, most prominently, the conspicuous absence of detailed stimulus-response relationships. To determine the sensitivity of seedlings of Arabidopsis thaliana to weak static magnetic fields we generated stimulus-response curves between near zero and 188 μT for the transcript levels of the genes rbcl, cab4, pal4 and ef1. The moderate magneto-responsiveness of dark-grown seedlings was greatly enhanced under blue light, and for rbcl and pal4 also under red light. The stimulus-response curves obtained under blue light of constant photon-fluence rate displayed multiple maxima and thus a pattern fundamentally different from that prevalent in plant and animal physiology. A double mutant lacking cryptochromes 1 and 2 displayed altered stimulus-response curves without losing, however, magneto-responsiveness completely. A reversal of the magnetic field direction substantially affected the gene expression and the quantity of CAB-protein (chlorophyll a,b-binding protein). The majority of our results are at variance with the notion of cryptochromes acting as the only magnetic-field sensors. They do not, however, exclude the possibility that cryptochromes participate in the magnetic field reception of Arabidopsis. The findings have the unexpected implication that cryptochrome- and phytochrome-mediated plant responses can be modulated by the strength and the orientation of the local geomagnetic field. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.