Researchers Just Made a Breakthrough in Growing Crops During a Drought

Posted by K R on

Drought is spreading across farmland worldwide—and it’s only going to get more intense. New research offers a clue on how we might be able to continue to grow the staples we’re used to but with much less water.

A lot of staple crops, like rice and wheat, actually have a defense mechanism to protect against drought. But by the time it kicks in, it’s often too late. Researchers at the Australian National University have just identified the enzyme—phosphatase SAL1—responsible in a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Now, they want to use it to push plants into drought-mode early. The researchers say the enzyme acts like a “fire alarm” in the plant. The problem is that its like a fire alarm that doesn’t start to blare until at least a few rooms of your house are already ash. The defense mechanism cuts down on water loss and usage in the plant, but it will only kick-in when the plant has been in steady drought-like conditions for a long period of time. Read More: Gizmodo

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