Desert plants can help crops deal with climate threats
Climate Change food security Desert

Desert plants can help crops deal with climate threats

Dr ASM Mainul Hasan
Dr ASM Mainul Hasan

In 10 seconds? As climate change is threatening global food production, a team of scientists has identified a genethat makes desert plants juicier. This will help us create crops that can better tolerate climate impacts, such as drought and salinity.

What’s the significance of the finding? Scientists have long been wondering about the spectacular genetic phenomenon allowing so-called succulent plants to store more water, produce their energy source, i.e. sugars at night (contrary to many other plants), and live in adverse conditions. Arizona researchers have replicated the genetic process in other plants that helps ‘succulent’ plants survive in the desert. Switching on identical genes in heat and drought-threatened food crops – through selective breeding or gene editing – can boost food security and protect farmers' incomes. One example is soybeans which are exceptionally thirsty. It would be a great win if they could be ‘taught’ how to grow using less water.

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