A severe drought — one of the consequences of climate change. This year the decline in rainfall and high temperatures in Northern and Eastern Europe led to losses among the grain and potato crops, so to secure the prosperity of the products need plant varieties that are resistant to lack of water.
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A group of scientists under the leadership of associate of the Center for research in agricultural genomics in Barcelona, Ana caño-Delgado (Ana Caño-Delgado) grew plants with increased resistance to drought, changing the structure of plant steroid hormones known as brassinosteroids. A study published in the journal Nature Communications, demonstrated the strategy of increasing the resistance to lack of water, without affecting the overall plant growth.
Caño-Delgado examines how brassinosteroids regulate the development and growth of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, also known as razumovich tal, for more than 15 years. Usually plant hormones plants are associated with different cellular membrane receptors, causing certain signals in the cell, which, in turn, affect the elongation or cell division. In 2016 the laboratory used this knowledge to search for solutions that provide plant resistance to drought. Modifying the signals of brassinosteroids, researchers have already achieved significant growth and resistance of Arabidopsis thaliana to water shortages, however, plants were significantly slowed in development and growth.
Now scientists have found that plants that allocate brassinosteroids the BRL3 receptor in a conductive fabric, more resistant to lack of water than others, and also have no defects in development and growth.
“We found that by modifying the signals of brassinosteroids only locally in the conductive vascular system, it is possible to obtain plants resistant to drought, without affecting their growth,” explains the researcher.
After analyzing metabolites in genetically modified plants, scientists have found that Arabidopsis thalianathat produce a large amount of BRL3, produce more smazawanyi metabolites (those not involved in the process of metabolism) such as sugars and Proline in the roots under normal irrigation. In drought conditions these protective metabolites accumulated in the roots, protecting them from drying out. Consequently, overexpression BRL3 prepares the plant to respond to water shortages.
“Today, drought is one of the most important problems in agriculture. So far, all efforts to the production of plants more resistant to drought, was not very successful, because as compensation for the enhanced resistance to drought there has been a reduction in the development and growth of plants. However, it seems we’ve finally found a strategy that can change this situation”, — concludes the scientist.