Gene that aids drought-resistant plants identified

February 28th, 2008 - 11:59 pm ICT by admin  

London, Feb 28 (IANS) A gene involved in regulating carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and water evaporation could help grow drought-resistant crops, a new study has found. The discovery will enable understanding of mechanisms that regulate the stomata, central to the development of hardier crops that will thrive in arid zones.

Stomata are tiny pores on the plant leaf surface that absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and release moisture into the air.

Unlike ion channels detected previously, the anion channel, discovered recently, was found to take part in the main stomata activities.

Climate change, which increases atmospheric ozone and carbon dioxide concentrations, may prompt plants to protect themselves by closing the stomata.

It minimises damage to the plant, but also inhibits carbon dioxide intake for photosynthesis, reducing sequestration of excess atmospheric carbon in plant material.

A different kind of plant, however, could grow better in the new conditions. This study will provide a new tool for geneticists in the development of drought-resistant plants.

Jaakko Kangasj

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