The University of California – Riverside stated that plants produce abscisic acid (ABA) when they face drought-like conditions. Abscisic acid (ABA) is a stress hormone that stops the growth of the plants and reduces their water consumption.
Protection of the plants from the drought is possible. It can be done with the spray of ABA on the plants. But this is very expensive. To deal with it, researchers are working to make synthetic ABA, but this can also be pricey and will consume a lot of time.
The agrochemical mandipropamid is already used widely to control the late-season diseases in crops.
According to a team of researchers, led by Sean Cutler, an associate professor of botany and plant sciences, the drought-threatened crops can be programmed to respond to mandipropamid as if it were ABA. This will enhance the survival of the plants during a drought.
To carry out the study, the scientists worked with Arabidopsis and the tomato plant. Arabidopsis is a model plant used commonly in plant biology labs.
Researchers used synthetic biological methods for the development of a new version of these plants’ abscisic acid receptors. They reprogrammed the plants in such a way that the activation was shown by mandipropamid instead of ABA.
Further, the researchers demonstrated that when mandipropamid was sprayed on the reprogrammed plants, they were able to survive under the drought conditions. They turned on the abscisic acid pathway, which closed the stomata on their leaves and thus prevented the plant from any water loss.
Cutler said, “We anticipate that this strategy of reprogramming plant responses using synthetic biology will allow other agrochemicals to control other useful traits – such as disease resistance or growth rates, for example”.
The research findings have showcased the power of synthetic biological approaches in manipulating crops. It has opened new doors for the improvement of the crops and will benefit the world’s growing population.