Researchers led by Ana Caño-Delgado, scientist of the Center for Research in Agrigenomics (CRAG), have managed to develop plants with a greater resistant to drought by modifying the signaling of plant steroid hormones. This is something that could help offset the impact of climate change, which entails reduced rainfall and rising temperatures.
The study, published by the journal Nature Communications, is the first to find a strategy to increase the resistance of plants to water stress without growth being affected. "Drought is one of the biggest problems in today's agriculture," said Caño-Delgado.
It is the first time that a plant with a greater resistance to water stress is obtained without this being detrimental to growth, and researchers are already working to apply this knowledge to cereals and other horticultural species.
"We have discovered that by modifying the signaling of brassinosteroids only locally in the vascular system, we make the plant more resistant to drought, and it grows just like non-modified plants," explains Caño-Delgado.
The reduced rainfall and the high temperatures recorded in northern and eastern Europe have caused huge losses in the production of cereals, potatoes and other horticultural species, so experts warn of the need to use plant varieties that are productive in dry conditions.
For more than 15 years, Caño-Delgado has been studying how plant steroids, the brassinosteroids, regulate the development and growth of the model plant par excellence: Arabidopsis thaliana.
It is known that these phytohormones bind to different receptors of cell membranes, causing a signaling cascade inside the cell that will end up producing effects such as elongation or cell division.
Since 2016, and thanks to a project funded by the European Research Council (ERC), her laboratory has been using this knowledge to find strategies to increase the resistance of plants to drought.
Source: Europa Press