Drought-resistant plant genes could accelerate evolution of water-use efficient crops
Scientists have recently done a study on plants that are good at conserving water to see which genes are responsible for this adaptation. Plants in drought areas thrive by keeping their stomata shut during the day to conserve water and open at night to collect carbon dioxide. This is known as CAM and is found in plants such as the orchid and pineapple. It is a proven mechanism for increasing water- use efficiency which allows them to live in drier climates and still survive. Scientists identified 60 genes that exhibited convergent evolution in the CAM species. They found that phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase is an important enzyme responsible for the nighttime fixation of carbon dioxide into malic acid. Malic acid is then converted to carbon dioxide so photosynthesis can continue to take place during the day.
The discovery of the PEPC enzyme is important as scientists can study it more in depth to find out exactly how it works. One day, they may be able to insert it into other plants, especially those that are very water- dependent. PEPC will make the plants use less water than ever before. This can change the future of agriculture at is the leading cause of water use on the planet. I found this article very interesting as it is another stepping stone to saving the planet. If we can find a way to use less water on earth, there can be many benefits for the entire planet. Overall, this study can benefit mankind as we can develop new technologies mimicking this water usage efficiency. I found another article that goes more in depth about CAM and its usefulness to plants and essentially society.