“Drunken” wheat copes with drought better – Earth – Science and technology

A simple way to protect plants from drought and the damage it brings has been revealed by Japanese experts.

When the drought-stricken plants were supplied with ethanol, which forms the basis of alcoholic beverages, they lasted up to two weeks without water. This follows from a study published by the journal Plant and Cell Physiology.

Attempts to protect crops from drought are expensive and often cannot be done without genetic modifications. The modified plants can close stomata, small vents on the surface of the leaves, during drought, which regulate gas exchange between the plant and the environment. Thanks to their closure, plants lose less water.

However, genetically modified plants that can do this cannot be afforded by everyone due to their price. But Motoaki Seki’s team from the RIKEN Research Institute found a cheaper way to achieve the same effect: they used ethanol.

They treated wheat, rice and also Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis thaliana) with it. It turns out that plants behave similarly to genetically modified species under the influence of ethanol – they also close their stomata. In addition, they can use ethanol. They make sugar from it and can continue photosynthesis.

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The researchers found that up to three-quarters of plants treated with ethanol could survive a two-week drought. Of those who were not treated, only one in twenty survived. “Treatment of cereals with ethanol can increase their yields during drought,” stated the study’s lead author Motoaki Seki.

However, the impact of ethanol use on the environment in large agricultural areas is not yet clear. Plants do not absorb it completely, part of it remains in the soil. What this means for the quality of the soil and groundwater, the scientists did not investigate in the laboratory experiment.

Source: Pravda – Veda a technika by vat.pravda.sk.

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