Bringing dehydrated plants back to life

Posted: April 4, 2010 at 8:11 am

Story Summary: Bringing dehydrated plants back to lifeApril 1, 2010 Drought can take a serious toll on plants and animals alike. However, some plants, like the aptly named resurrection fern (Polypodium polypodioides), can survive extreme measures of water loss, even as much as 95% of their water content. As they talked, it became apparent that any differences between plants of related species that give some individuals the ability to survive very low water levels, while their cousins die after only moderate water loss, must be occurring at the cellular and molecular level. The plant is just as dry and brittle as can be, Balsamo said. It has lost 95% of its water, but its still alive! They found that not only is a particular class of proteins, called dehydrins, more prevalent during dry conditions, but, for the first time, they found that it was also prevalent near the cell walls. Dehydrins earned their name for their ability to attract, sequester, and localize water. The finding led the researchers to the conclusion that these water-surrounded dehydrins may actually allow water to act as a lubricant between either the plant cell membrane and the plant cell wallor even between individual cell wall layers. Layton added, Think of crumpling a sheet of paper over and over. Eventually the fibers are going to fracture and the paper is going to tear. They also observed that the ferns vascular tissue, found near the centers of individual fronds does not deform greatly, highlighting the importance of keeping this tissue intact once wateragain becomes available. If the dehydrin gene could be localized and transferred to other species, it could possibly confer the ability to resist drought to plants. The technique described in the open access journal Plant Methods, published by BioMed Central, allows . . . Professor Andy Pereira at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) has been working . . . com) — A genome is a complex system of genes and factors that regulate them. A European research team has clarified how such dynamic systems work, leading to a new way to predict genetic regulators….Read the Full Story

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