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Monday, October 10, 2005

Hardier Plants

Arabidopsis thaliana
Arabidopsis thaliana
Credit: TARGET
Scientists at University of Connecticut, Purdue University and Pennsylvania State University have shown a long-standing theory about plants to be wrong. Plants have 3 types of pumps inside their cells. Until recently, one of these, AVP1 H+-PPase, was thought to do very little except control pH. "Biology textbooks tell you there are three pumps inside a plant's cell but one is less important. Our research shows that is not the case," Gaxiola said. "As it turns out, that tiny pump is required to shuttle the master pump, the plant's major engine, to the plasma membrane. That, in turn, allows the master pump to facilitate the transport of more of the growth hormone, auxin, through the plant's plasma membrane and through the plant's root and shoot systems, resulting in enhanced cell division and growth." Using Arabidopsis thaliana as a test subject, they found that by increasing the "less important" pump the cells were more drought and salt resistant. Some of Gaxiola research with agricultural plants would seem to suggest that other plants would behave similarly. This could have astounding effects on the food available to travelers to Mars. By requiring less water and nutrients, the plants would be able to provide more for less.

(More info: Science Daily)

- posted by Jim @ 0:21 EST