Stomata key players to survive drought

 

Photo credit: EUREKALERT!

CAPTION

Dr. Su Yin Phua, Dr. Kai Xun Chan, Diep Ganguly and Estee Tee from the ANU Research School of Biology.

CREDIT

Stuart Hay, ANU

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Lending plants a hand to survive drought

AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY

The findings have helped some plants survive 50 percent longer in drought conditions, and could eventually benefit major crops such as barley, rice and wheat, which are crucial to world food supplies.

The research team, led by Dr Wannarat Pornsiriwong, Dr Gonzalo Estavillo, Dr Kai Chan and Dr Barry Pogson from the ANU Research School of Biology, mapped a new molecular signalling pathway that controls the ability of plants to close the pores on their leaves to conserve water during drought stress.

“This basic scientific research has the potential to be able to improve farming productivity not just in Australia, but potentially in other countries that suffer from drought stress,” Dr Pogson said.

“If we can even alleviate drought stress a little it would have a significant impact on our farmers and the economy.”

The researchers found that chloroplasts, better known for their role in photosynthesis, are actually key players that work together with plant hormones during drought stress.

Dr Pogson said the research found chloroplasts in cells surrounding the pores on leaves, called stomata, can sense drought stress and thereby activate a chemical signal that closes stomata to conserve water.

“This finding was completely unexpected and opens new avenues of inquiry into how chloroplasts can contribute to plant responses to the environment,” Dr Pogson said.

The team conducted tests on barley and Arabidopsis, a small flowering native plant, and enhanced levels of the chloroplast signal which helps plants close stomata.

Read the full article : EUREKALERT

FOR INTERVIEW:

Dr Kai Chan
ANU Research School of Biology
T: +61 2 6125 7702
E: kai.chan@anu.edu.au

Dr Barry Pogson
ANU Research School of Biology
T: +61 2 6125 5629
E: barry.pogson@anu.edu.au

For media assistance please contact Kate Prestt in the ANU Media Office on +61 2 6125 7979 or email media@anu.edu.au.

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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