24 Oct 2011:
Study Offers New Insights
Into Planting Flood-Tolerant Crops
Scientists say they have identified the molecular mechanism that enables plants to detect and cope with low oxygen levels
that occur when roots or shoots are inundated with water, a development they say
University of Nottingham
Water added to the Arabidopsis plant
could help farmers breed high-yield, flood-tolerant crops as flooding becomes more common globally. In a study published in Nature
, scientists from the University of California, Riverside and the University of Nottingham in the UK describe the subtle changes they observed in the metabolism of plants after they were fully or partially submerged. Specifically, in tests on Arabidopsis
, a small flowering plant species, they identified proteins that are actually unstable when oxygen levels are normal, but become more stable when oxygen levels drop, such as during exposure to increased amounts of water; this trait enhances the plants’ ability to survive in flood conditions. Researchers say that in years to come scientists might be able to manipulate this trait, called the protein turnover mechanism, to develop crops capable of surviving flood conditions.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.