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Study Reveals Plants Remember Drought

During periods of drought, plants use a signaling molecule that animals use to limit their water loss and gives them a kind of memory of how dry the day was. The team of Professor Rainer Hedrich, plant scientist and biophysicist from the Julius Maximilians University (JMU) Würzburg discovered this new strategy together with a team from the University of Adelaide in Australia.

During periods of drought, plants use a signaling molecule that animals use to limit their water loss and gives them a kind of memory of how dry the day was. The team of Professor Rainer Hedrich, plant scientist and biophysicist from the Julius Maximilians University (JMU) Würzburg discovered this new strategy together with a team from the University of Adelaide in Australia.

 

In the publication detailing the results of their study, the researchers report that plants use the signaling molecule GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) to remember the drought of a day. The drier it is, the more GABA accumulates in the plant tissue over the course of the day. The next morning, the amount of GABA decides how far the plant opens its leaf pores. The opening width of these pores limits the loss of water.

 

The GABA effect was also observed in various crops, according to Professor Matthew Gilliham from the University of Adelaide. "Under the influence of GABA, for example, barley, broad beans, and soybeans close their leaf pores," he explained.

 

For more details, read the article on the JMU Würzburg website.

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