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Biotechnological use of the circadian clock to obtain plants with improved productivity, nutritional quality and resilience to climate change

19th national competition for scientific and technical research

Food security and biotechnology

Senior Researcher : Paloma Mas Martínez

Research Centre or Institution : Centro de Regulación Agrigenómica-CSIC-IRTA-UAB-UB


The circadian clock is a cellular mechanism capable of measuring the passage of time to precisely coordinate plant metabolism, growth and development in sync with environmental signals. The components and mechanisms of the circadian function have been extensively investigated in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. However, studies of the circadian clock in plants of agronomic interest have begun to reveal a possible important role of the clock in traits of agronomic interest. The overall objective of this project is to achieve tomato plants that have improved productivity, nutritional quality, and resilience to drought conditions. Our approach is based on understanding how the circadian clock works and to use this knowledge to generate tomato plants with higher yields, and nutritional quality. The studies performed last year focused on finalizing the generation of the CRISPR-Cas9 lines of the main components of the circadian clock (CRISPRclock). In a first stage, we analyzed the phase and amplitude changes in the expression of the main molecular components of the circadian oscillator. 

The results have revealed the regulatory networks among oscillator components with a peak of expression at specific times during the day and night. We also performed a comprehensive analysis of how developmental processes such as germination, flowering and fruit development were affected in the CRISPRclock lines. The results showed that proper clock function contributes the regulation of growth and development of the plant and the fruit. We have also analyzed the responses of the CRISPRclock lines to abiotic stresses such as drought and high temperatures. We have identified lines with improved survival and adaptation to these stresses. Finally, we have submitted fruit samples to obtain a complete metabolic profile to be able to determine their nutritional quality.


Scientific Production
Magazine Articles 4
Communications at national conferences -
Communications at international conferences 3


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