Heat waves, droughts, record temperatures… Summer 2022 is particularly hot. So, at the end of the day, some allow themselves an aperitif to quench their thirst and no longer suffer from the high temperatures. But the flora, too, suffers from the strong heat… and alcohol could also bring it a little well-being.
For some reason that is still unknown to us, plants deprived of water naturally produce ethanol. Researchers at the Riken Science Center for Sustainable Resources in Japan therefore considered the idea that giving plants alcohol could preserve them in hot weather. According to them, it is a means “useful and simple” increase food production around the world in times of drought or water scarcity.
Protecting crops from drought would go a long way to alleviating food insecurity, a problem currently affecting many parts of the world. And this issue is all the more important since, in addition to the heat waves, there is always a war between Russia and Ukraine, and many supply difficulties result from this.
A less expensive method
In their laboratory experiments, the scientists grew seedlings of wheat and of rizwatered them regularly by adding ethanol to the soil of part of the grasses for three days.
They then deprived all the cereals water for two weeks. As a result, “drunk” plants fared better than “sober” plants: about 75% of wheat and rice plants treated with ethanol survived after being rehydrated, compared to less than 5% of those not. treated.
Good news, since according to Motoaki Seki, lead author of the study, “external application of ethanol to plants would be a less expensive method of farming [que la modification génétique des plantes] to improve the drought tolerance of various plants”.
However, the researcher warns: this method should be used sparingly, because “a high concentration of ethanol inhibits plant growth”. In other words, maybe don’t try this at home just yet.
The researchers also noticed that on the specimens treated with ethanol and deprived of water, tiny openings on the surface of the leaves, called “stomata”, closed, retaining the water. And that the plants behaved as if they were experiencing a drought, even before they were really deprived of water.
The Japanese team of scientists will soon begin new tests, no longer in laboratory but in the fields.
Source: Slate.fr by www.slate.fr.
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