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Wheat plants engineered to have fewer microscopic pores—called stomata—on their leaves are better able to survive drought conditions associated with climate breakdown, according to a new study.
Scientists at the University of Sheffield's Institute for Sustainable Food found that engineering bread wheat to have fewer stomata helps the crop to use water more efficiently, while maintaining yields.
Agriculture - Accounts - Percent - Freshwater - Use
Agriculture accounts for 80-90 percent of freshwater use around the world, and on average it takes more than 1,800 litres of water to produce a single kilogram of wheat. Yet as water supplies become scarce and more variable in the face of climate breakdown, farmers will need to produce more food than ever to feed a growing population.
Like most plants, wheat uses stomata to regulate its intake of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, as well as the release of water vapour. When water is plentiful, stomatal opening helps plants to regulate temperature by evaporative cooling—similar to sweating.
Conditions - Wheat - Plants - Stomata - Water
In drought conditions, wheat plants normally close their stomata to slow down water loss—but wheat with fewer stomata has been found to conserve water even better, and can use that water to cool itself.
During the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Botany, the scientists grew wheat in conditions similar to those expected under...
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