Plants can naturally control the opening and closing of stomata, pores that take in carbon dioxide and release water. During drought conditions, a plant might close its stomata to conserve water. By doing so, however, the plant also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide it can take in, which limits photosynthesis and growth.
Mike Mickelbart, an assistant professor of horticulture; Mike Hasegawa, a professor of horticulture; and Chal Yul Yoo, a horticulture graduate student, found that a genetic mutation in the research plant Arabidopsis thaliana reduces the number of stomata. But instead of limiting carbon dioxide intake, the gene creates a beneficial equilibrium.
"The plant can only fix so much carbon dioxide. The fewer stomata still allow for the same amount of carbon dioxide intake as a wild type while conserving water," said Mickelbart, whose results were published in the early online version of the journal The Plant Cell. "This shows there is potential to reduce transpiration without a yield penalty."
Mickelbart and Yoo used an infrared gas analyzer to determine the amount of carbon dioxide taken in and water lost in the Arabidopsis mutant. Carbon dioxide is pumped into a chamber with the plant and the analyzer measures the amount left after a plant has started to take up the gas. A similar process measures water lost through transpiration, in which water is released from a plant's leaves.
Analysis showed that the plant, which has a mutant form of the gene GTL1, did not reduce carbon dioxide intake but did have a 20 percent reduction in transpiration. The plant had the same biomass as a wild type of Arabidopsis when its shoot dry weight was measured.
"The decrease in transpiration leads to increased drought tolerance in the mutant plants," Yoo said. "They will hold more water in their leaves during drought stress."
Of the 20 genes known to control stomata, SDD1 was highly expressed in the mutant. SDD1 is a gene that is responsible for regulating the number of stomata on leaves. In the mutant, with GTL1 not functioning, SDD1 is highly expressed, which results in the development of fewer stomata.
Mickelbart said the finding is important because it opens the possibility that there is a natural way to improve crop drought tolerance without decreasing biomass or yield. He said the next step in the research is to determine the role of GTL1 in a crop plant.
The National Science Foundation and a Binational Agricultural Research and Development Award funded the research.
Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-496-2050, email@example.comSources: Michael Mickelbart, 765-494-7902, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Wallheimer | EurekAlert!
Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein
24.01.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Choreographing the microRNA-target dance
24.01.2017 | UT Southwestern Medical Center
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine