Scientists find protein that controls environmental stress in plants

Washington, August 24 (ANI): Researchers have found the protein that controls plants' response to environmental stresses such as drought, excessive radiation and cold.

A team of Wisconsin researchers identified that plant hormone abscisic acid, could help underpin the development of new crop plant strains capable of thriving in hotter, dryer climates.

"If we can figure out how this works with crops and make them able to resist drought, the benefits would be enormous," notes Michael Sussman, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of biochemistry and the senior author of the new study.

"These are the first baby steps to understand the effects of dehydration in plants and it may give us the opportunity to develop crops that can withstand this kind of stress in the field."

Working in the model laboratory plant Arabidopsis, the Wisconsin team explored the influence of abscisic acid, which also controls the naturally occurring processes of seed dormancy and germination.

Figuring out how to trigger a dormant state, which exists naturally in seeds, that are 10 percent water and can in some cases remain viable for hundreds of years, could be key to creating plants that survive drought in the field, Sussman explains.

The new study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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