Researchers Discover How to Engineer Plants with Enhanced Drought Resistance without Affecting Growth
Drought is one of the effects of climate change that needs serious
attention. This year's decreased rainfall and abnormally hotter temperatures
in northern and eastern Europe caused large losses in cereals and potato
crops and in other horticultural species.
Experts have long believed that that to ensure food security, it is becoming
necessary to use plant varieties that are productive in drought conditions.
Now, a team led by researcher Ana Ca?o-Delgado at the Center for Research in
Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) in Spain has obtained plants with increased
drought resistance by modifying the signaling of the plant steroid hormones,
known as brassinosteroids. The study is the first to find to find a strategy
to increase hydric stress resistance without affecting overall plant growth.
The researchers at CRAG studied drought resistance and growth in Arabidopsis
thaliana plants with mutations in different brassinosteroid receptors. The
researchers discovered that plants that over-express the BRL3
brassinosteroid receptor in the vascular tissue are more resistant to the
lack of water than control plants and that, unlike the other mutants, they
do not present defects in their development and growth. "We have discovered
that modifying brassinosteroid signaling only locally in the vascular
system, we are able to obtain drought resistant plants without affecting
their growth", explains Ca?o-Delgado.