Study reveals which genes are critical to a plant’s response to drought

Because plants cannot relocate when resources become scarce, they need to efficiently regulate their growth by responding to environmental cues.
Drought is the most important cause of reduced plant growth and crop yield, which makes insights into a plant’s drought response highly valuable to agriculture.
The findings are published in the leading academic journal The Plant Cell.
Scientists predict that climate change will cause widespread agricultural problems, mainly in the form of drought — especially when fresh water and irrigation infrastructure are not available.
Extreme food shortages could be the result, making it very important for scientists to find new ways to protect crop plants against drought on a genetic level.
But before they can do this, they need to understand more about which genes are responsible for the changes in a plant’s growth rate under drought conditions.
Large-scale study uses the latest genetic analysis technologies Before this study — the largest of its kind — conducted by a team led by Professor Dirk Inzé, scientists had little insight into the genes and genetic processes that drive some plants to limit their growth under drought conditions while others grow normally.
Core genes affected by drought stress identified At a molecular level, even though the diversity in the drought responses of the different accessions was huge, only a small number of genes was affected in virtually all 100 types of Arabidopsis.
These genes are the core of a plant’s drought defense response.
Prof Inzé (VIB-Ghent University): "This study provided major insights into how plants cope with water-limiting conditions, which can direct advanced breeding and genome engineering efforts to create high-performing, drought-tolerant crop plants.

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