Circadian clocks are believed to confer an advantage to plants, but the nature of that advantage has been unknown. We show that a substantial photosynthetic advantage is conferred by correct matching of the circadian clock period with that of the external light-dark cycle. In wild type and in long- and short-circadian period mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana, plants with a clock period matched to the environment contain more chlorophyll, fix more carbon, grow faster, and survive better than plants with circadian periods differing from their environment. This explains why plants gain advantage from circadian control.
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