New chemical keeps plants lush during drought

A new chemical to help plants retain water was developed by a group of researchers at the University of California at Riverside. This new substance could be a useful method of contrasting the increasingly pressing drought that is pressing farmers in various regions of the world and which is the main cause of crop failures. This is also underlined by Sean Cutler, professor of biology who is also one of the authors of the study published in Science.

The scientist himself speaks of a new tool which could be very useful for farmers to manage their crops when water levels are not enough. The chemical product, called Opabactin, has been under development in Cutler’s laboratories since 2013 when it was still called chinabactin, a still limited and more expensive version.

According to researchers, this chemical mimics abscisic acid or ABA, a hormone produced by plants when there is little water. This hormone does nothing but slow down the growth of the plant so that it does not wither.

The new substance works 10 times better and is a sort of “super hormone,” according to the researchers themselves. Within a few hours, you can already see an improvement in the plant and for this reason, it can offer growers greater flexibility in dealing with the same drought.

By Bob Miller

Bob was Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Denver from 2011-2018 and now works as a practicing psychiatrist. As a passionate scientist, he founded the website in early 2019 with the goal of delivering accurate and useful scientific reporting, and has since built it up as a valuable publication. While his field is in psychology, Bob also has a strong general understanding of many other fields in health, astronomy and applied science, and is able to write in a way that is easily understandable to the layman.

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