Synthetic chemists and plant biologists at the Institute of Transformative
Bio-Molecules (ITbM) in Nagoya University used a chemical approach and
developed small molecules to increase the number of stomata in plant leaves.
The completed research is hoped to improve crop productivity and water-use
efficiency as published in Chemical Communications.
Stomata are openings in plant leaves that function for gas exchange between
the plant and the environment. Controlling the development and function of
stomata affects plant productivity and water-use efficiency. Thus, the
researchers explored on improving stomata using Arabidopsis. They identified
two molecules (CL1 and CL2), which has a similar structure as non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drug, Celecoxib. Though the molecules helped increase the
number of stomata in the leaves, high levels of CL1 and CL2 became toxic to
the plants. Guided by the stomata increasing effect of CL1 and CL2, the team
developed new compounds that increase the numbers of the stomata, while
reducing the toxicity upon contact with certain plant compounds at high
concentrations. After performing several synthesizing and testing, they were
able to identify ortho-anisyl substituted ZA144, which has the methoxy group
in the ortho-position, as the most effective molecule in increasing the
number of stomata without severe toxicity.
The results of the study may help other scientists in the identification and
synthesis of compounds that can increase biomass through stomatal control.