Gene Discovery Holds Hope for Drought-Safe Crops

Scientists make botanical breakthrough
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2008 2:45 AM CST
Scientists say they have discovered the gene that controls how plants absorb carbon dioxide and expels moisture. It could lead to the production of drought resistant crops.   ((c) Hey Paul)
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(Newser) – Scientists have discovered a gene that controls how plants absorb carbon dioxide and release moisture in a breakthrough discovery that could help develop drought-resistant crops, reports the BBC. The gene that regulates the work of stomata, or pores on plant leaves, has been sought by biologists for decades. The gene also controls the amount of water vapor a plant releases into the atmosphere, and its manipulation could affect climate change.

"It opens the avenue," said one expert of the discovery detailed in the journal Nature. "It is still several years away, but before this there was no single component which would have so many different effects. Now we know the target." The genetic mechanism is similar in several key food crops.