Plants and crops are constantly threatened by hostile environments caused by climate change. Some of these harsh conditions include droughts, which are the main factor responsible for destroying entire crops and vegetation.
Droughts are responsible for affecting the growth and development of plants. However, scientists have come up with a solution that will help plants survive devastating droughts.
According to the World Bank, extreme forms of weather will be the new norm in decades. Droughts conditions will become increasingly more severe and more frequent in some regions of the world. The reports show that California is threatened by severe droughts in the future.
The experts claim that the south-western part of the United States will probably be facing super-droughts that will last for decades at a time.
At the moment, plants cannot deal with such extreme weather, but a team of scientists led by Sean Cutler from the University of California, has succeeded in reprogramming the receptors of certain plant species in order to respond to what scientists call, an agrochemical mandipropamid.
Professor Cutler explained that they have managed to succeed in repurposing the agrochemical for a new application.
The scientists have been successful in modifying genetically the plant receptor. Cutler adds that the new technique of reprogramming the way a plant responds using synthetic biology will help other agrochemical control other useful features, like the plant’s resistance to diseases or the plants’ growth rates.
Cutler explained that when plants are faced with extreme weather conditions like droughts, they produce a stress hormone called abscisic acid (ABA).
This compound inhibits the plant’s growing process and it reduces its water intake. In conditions where water is scarce, the abscisic acid activates a plant’s receptor that closes the stomata. The stomata are the guard cells found on leaves that help it reduce the loss of water.
The scientists have come up with a method that can trick the plant into thinking that they are treated with the abscisic acid.
The researchers have observed that by spraying the reprogrammed plants with mandipropamid, they were able to survive the drought conditions.
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