Plants have a “drought” memory to help reduce yield loss

Photo by Alejandro Barrón from Pexels

New research from the University of Illinois claims that crops that survive after experiencing drought or extreme temperatures during the early stages of growth can withstand those same conditions later in the growth cycle. 

According to a postdoctoral researcher at the university, Peng Fu, crops respond to drought by adapting to it. This allows plants to lessen the impact of drought if it reoccurs in the future. 

These findings are the result of research where the behavior of corn and soybean fields across Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa were observed. The experiment allowed researchers to determine how crops adapt to extreme temperatures and drought, conditions that are only expected to increase in coming years due to climate change.

Carl Bernacchi, a scientist with the US Department of Agriculture, added that this evidence where crops use an early drought to prepare for a later one suggests that a similar outcome may be achieved through breeding.

Such behavior among crops can help reduce plant yield loss and equip farmers with the right knowledge on how to prevent future crop loss due to climate change. 

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