As a scientist preparing to fight the increasing effects of climate change, an area has had problems: the construction of…
As a scientist preparing to fight the increasing effects of climate change, an area has had problems: the construction of drought resistant plants that grow as well as their unchanged counterparts.
Enter Dr. Ana Caño-Delgado, a researcher of the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics who has discovered a way to use steroid hormone signals to increase the growth and yield of drought resistant crops.
“Drought is one of the most important problems in today’s agriculture. So far, the biotechnological efforts made to produce drought-resistant plants have not been very successful because, as opposed to increased drying resistance, there was always a decrease of growth and productivity, “said Caño-Delgado in a press release.” We seem to have finally found a strategy that can be applied and we want to continue exploring it. “
Her team study is the first to successfully increase the growth tolerance against drought without sacrificing growth. The discovery comes after 1
5 years of study of brassinosteroids – plant steroids – in the herb Arabidopsis thaliana .
They found that some plants overexpressing a specific steroid receptor – BRL3 – and that their vascular tissue was more resistant Against water shortage. These drought resistant plants did not show the defects plants with other mutations had, said research
By modifying the signaling of the steroid signaling in A. Thaliana created the researchers to dry resistant plants that still grow like their thirsty cousins.
“We have discovered that modifying brassinosteroid signals only locally in the vascular system, we can dry resistant plants without affecting their growth,” said Caño-Delgado.
The team went with researchers from the United States, Japan and Europe to study how the mutation works. They found that arabidopsis plants with BRL3 produce more metabolites in their roots and air parts during normal irrigation. In dry conditions, these metabolites protect the roots of the dried, resistant plants.
The researchers are now studying how their functionality can be adapted to agricultural crops, especially cereal products.
The study has been published in the journal  Naturkommunikation .
Image Credit: Center for Research in Agricultural Genome