More drought resistant crops : Scientists find a way. - Seeker's Thoughts

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More drought resistant crops : Scientists find a way.

Scientists have discovered how plant create networks of air channels --- the lungs of the lead – to transport carbon dioxide CO2 to their cells.
Study shows humans have bred wheat plants to have fewer pores on their leaves and use less water. Findings pave the way to develop more drought-resistant crops.

Before knowing the discovery lets understand how plant stay alive?

All living things use a process called respiration to get the energy to stay alive. Cellular respiration in plants is the process used by plants to convert nutrients obtained from the soil into energy which fuels the plant's cellular activities.

On the other hand, photosynthesis is the process where light energy is converted into chemical energy stored in glucose that can later be used in respiration. On the green parts of the plant that contain chlorophyll.

During respiration, plants consume nutrients to keep plant cells alive while during photosynthesis, the plants create their own food.

The formula of respiration and photosynthesis is-

Photosynthesis - carbon dioxide + water + light energy + oxygen + glucose

Respiration – Oxygen + glucose + carbon dioxide + water + heat energy.

People breathe, animal breathe but do plants breathe?

Breathing refers to the act of inhaling air into the lung and then expelling it out of the bodies afterward. So it’s a physical process of exchanging gases between the living objects and the environment.

Actually, plants respire rather than breathing, during respiration and photosynthesis, gases go in and out of the plant through little holes called stomata using diffusion, not breathing.

Respiration in plants is strikingly similar to why living objects breathe.

Also, Read- Humans are literally screwing-up-earth

Living objects breathe because they need to obtain oxygen to carry out cellular respiration to stay alive, just like plants need to respire to stay alive. Then byproducts such as carbon dioxide and water are released and removed from the living objects through breathing, just like plants do when they respire.

What scientists have discovered about plants respiration?

Like we understood above about how plant respires through little holes or pores in leaves – called stomata and contain an intricate internal network of air channels form in the right places in order to provide a steady flow of CO2 to every plant cell.

The new study, led by scientists at the University Sheffield’s Institute for sustainable food and published in Nature Communications, used genetic manipulation techniques to reveal that more stomata a leaf has, the more air space if forms. 

The channels act like bronchioles—the tiny passage that carries air to the exchange surfaces of human and animal lungs.

The Movement of CO2 through the pores most likely determines the shape and scale of the air channel network.

The study also shows that wheat plants have bred by generations of people to have fewer pores on their leaves and fewer air channels, which makes their leaves denser and allows them to be grown with less water.

Highlights of discovery

This new discovery assures the potential for scientists to make stable crops like wealth even more water-efficient by altering the internal structure of their leaves.

The major discoveries how the movement of air through leaves shapes their internal workings which have implications for the way we think about evolution in plants.

How it will be helpful?

According to the scientists, this discovery can be targeted to these air channels network of the plants to develop crops that can survive the more extreme droughts.


Using a set of experiments involving X-ray CT image analyses, scientists have observed the development of stomata initiates the expansion of air spaces, further, they found the stomata actually need to be exchanging gases on order for the air spaces to expand.

Scientists have now developed the techniques to visualize the cellular structure of a plant leaf in 3D—which will allow them to see how the complex network of air spaces inside the lead controls its behavior.

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