India@75: A nation in the making

How plants produce their own 'aspirin' to protect themselves from environmental hazards

For protection against drought or flooding, certain plants, such as Arabidopsis, naturally secrete an acid comparable to aspirin

Published: Jul 22, 2022 12:09:55 PM IST
Updated: Jul 22, 2022 12:17:22 PM IST

How plants produce their own 'aspirin' to protect themselves from environmental hazardsFor protection against drought or flooding, certain plants, such as Arabidopsis, naturally secrete an acid comparable to aspirin. Image: Shutterstock

To protect themselves against drought or flooding, some types of plants naturally secrete an acid comparable to aspirin. This surprising process could pave the way for exploring new means of protecting other types of plants from the effects of climate change.

Is salicylic acid the answer to protection from water stress? This is the substance (comparable to aspirin) that some plants are able to create, as demonstrated by a study published in Science Advances. To reach these conclusions, US researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) studied a model plant called Arabidopsis, often considered a weed.

The team of scientists found that during prolonged and intense episodes of drought, the plant studied activates a molecule known as MEcPP. The accumulation of this molecule in the plant's cells favors the production of salicylic acid, which will then spread and deploy its protective actions. "It's like plants use a painkiller for aches and pains, just like we do," said Wilhelmina van de Ven, UCR plant biologist and co-first study author.

"Because salicylic acid helps plants withstand stresses becoming more prevalent with climate change, being able to increase plants' ability to produce it represents a step forward in challenging the impacts of climate change on everyday life," said Katayoon Dehesh, senior paper author and UCR distinguished professor of molecular biochemistry.

The researchers hope to discover more about the mechanism of stress reactions in this type of plant and to be able to apply this knowledge to other plants, in particular those cultivated for food. "Those impacts go beyond our food. Plants clean our air by sequestering carbon dioxide, offer us shade, and provide habitat for numerous animals. The benefits of boosting their survival are exponential," Katayoon Dehesh explains.

Check out our Festive offers upto Rs.1000/- off website prices on subscriptions + Gift card worth Rs 500/- from Eatbetterco.com. Click here to know more.

Show More
Post Your Comment
Required
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated