How can Plants see Blue Light?


Most plants can perceive and react to a broader spectrum of light compared to some other organic lifeforms. New research under Prof. Nitzan Shabek’s laboratory in the University of California, Davis (UC DAVIS) ‘s Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences, has been published, focusing on how the plants respond to specific light waves, specifically blue lights.

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Blue lights

Blue light is the radiation with wavelengths measuring 400 to 500 nm (nanometers)-a wavelength on the visible spectrum with relatively high energy. Blue lights are comparable to UV (ultraviolet) rays. Both are not commonly perceived by humans naturally. However, they can leave harmful effects on the person’s eyes, especially under prolonged exposure.

According to professor Shabek, plants can see way better compared to some animals, especially humans.

They might not have organs specifically dedicated to detecting lights like what humans have; however, they have a wide variety of sensory receptors that can perceive almost tall types of wavelengths. One specific wavelength that only plants are known to perceive naturally is blue lights. Plants can do this through the use of one of their photoreceptors known as cryptochromes. When cryptochromes detect incoming photons, they cause responses that trigger unique physiological reactions.


Cryptochromes are not only found in plants; they can be seen in human eyes too. However, they function differently and serves another purpose. On a regular human, these cryptochromes are involved in maintaining the person’s circadian rhythm (the internal process regulating the sleep-wake cycle of a human). But, on plants, they govern a number of essential procedures, including the germination processes, flowering time, and of course, the circadian rhythm.

Shabak’s study aims to determine the blue-light receptor’s crystal structure, cryptochrome-2, in the plant subject, Arabidopsis thaliana, otherwise known as the thale cress. There they discovered that the receptors change its internal structure when it reacts to light particles. When hit by light, single units form structures of four linked companies.

Rearrangement Process

The photo-induced oligomerization rearrangement process is the phase that involves the restructuring of the particle’s internal units. Certain elements within the protein go through a series of changes when exposed to blue lights. These reactions send transcriptional regulators that control the specific expression of certain genes in the plant.

Effect of Blue Light on Plants

Blue lights trigger the photosynthetic reaction, but not from the usual energy-driven perspective. They might not be as efficient compared to green or red photons because of how their energy is utilized. Some of these energies are lost, unlike what happens to photosynthetic lights with longer wavelengths. But, at least a minimal quantity of blue light is required in indoor lighting for plant development. These blue lights also regulate the opening of a plant’s stomata, the organs that control the water uptakes, and carbon dioxide regulations.

Generally, blue light suppresses extension growth; plants grown with blue light are usually shorter and have smaller, thicker, and darker green leaves than plants grown without blue light. These are conditions pleasing to ornamental plant growers because of their growth-regulating properties.

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