In order to feed every human being on the planet by 2050, the world will need to produce far more food. One difficulty farmers face is finding enough fresh water. A group of scientists led by Katarzyna Glowacka, from the University of Illinois, Urbana, may have found a potential way to save farmers water.
The group’s technique hinges on the stomata of plants. Stomata are small pores that open when a plant wants to let in carbon dioxide, so it can begin the process of photosynthesis. However, the stomata also let out water. Glowacka’s team genetically modified a tobacco plant to open its stomata less in order to save water. They found that the tobacco plants grew to the same weight as non-genetically modified control, but required 25% less water.
This research is still very preliminary. The authors are optimistic that the new strategy would also work in food crops like wheat, corn, or soybeans. Nonetheless, they are still waiting to test actual food crops, which use carbon dioxide slightly differently at the start of photosynthesis. Our expert, John Doench, from the Broad Institute, is skeptical that the technique comes without hidden tradeoffs. After all, any plant growing in a dry climate would benefit from losing less water. If simply opening the stomata less would save water with no downsides, it seems likely some plant would have evolved to do so already. The researchers will have to conduct more testing to discover whether this genetic change has any deleterious effects on the plants.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to John Doench for his input on this article
Managing Correspondent: Emily Kerr
Original Article: “Photosystem II Subunit S overexpression increases the efficiency of water use in a field-grown crop”
Recent News Article: “GM tobacco test crop uses 25pc less water”
14 thoughts on “Thirsty Plants: Can plants be genetically modified to need less water?”
hi how you doing.
hi kalib im doing well how are you
You’re screwed, this is not knowledge. This is Scrutiny. Harvard is not real education. Why don’t u just block the sun with a satellite by using a glass that blocks or distances the sun’s heat and light. Mimicking an eclipse? GMO, Pills, = Forbidden fruit from tree of Knowledge
Let me guess, you think the world is flat too?
Excuse me……..WTF?!!?!?! Are you even writing in English?
I love that your solution is to block the most powerful thing in our solar system with glass please come with a strong reliable alternative solution before dissing actual science, genetically modified organisms could be our future weather you like it or not.
Can somebody tell me if Herbicides and Pesticides are bad for my canola crop.
Yes it influences the way they grow but at the same time it keeps away bugs, there will always be side affects though.
Why don’t we just make a big AC for earth and when it gets hot, we just cool it down?
We could ask the Earth nicely to just stop being hot…
your are dumb nerds
they are bad for it
PB … i might be reaching but, are you seeing this?