- By altering a single gene, scientists coaxed tobacco plants — a model crop often used in experiments — to grow to near normal size with only 75 percent of the water they usually require.
- “Making crop plants more water-use efficient is arguably the greatest challenge for current and future plant scientists,” said lead author Johannes Kromdijk, also from the University of Illinois.
- In the genetically engineered plants, increased levels of PsbS caused the tiny leaf pores to close earlier than they normally would, allowing the plant to retain more precious liquid.
- Researchers have unveiled a genetic modification that enables plants to use a quarter less water with scant reduction in yield.
- By 2030, the planet will face a 40 percent water deficit if global warming continues at its current pace, according to the UN World Water Development report.
- Ironically, this gain in water storage is only made possible by global warming, which has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by about 25 percent since 1950.