Significance of circadian gene expression in higher plants

Chronobiol Int. 1996 Nov;13(5):319-39. doi: 10.3109/07420529609012657.


The significance of the circadian clock for living organisms is not fully understood. Recent findings demonstrate circadian control of transcription of quite a number of genes with individual maxima throughout the entire day. Evidence in favor of circadian-clock-controlled translation has also been documented. In this article, we want to promote the idea that in plants the clock functions as a regulator which coordinates critical cellular processes, such as cell division, nitrate reduction, or synthesis of chlorophyll-protein complexes, in such a way that the generation of dangerous, oxidative radicals or exposure to harmful light is minimized. This has been achieved by plant organisms either by confining gene expression to the dark phase or by a tight coordination of different tiers of gene expression during the light phase. This leads to the consequence for the researcher that the time of experimentation needs to be carefully considered and documented. It also follows that one might lose important findings if only a particular portion of the day is investigated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics*
  • Darkness
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Light
  • Models, Biological
  • Plant Development
  • Plant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Plant Proteins