Knowledge for Development

Plants remember drought, change responses to survive

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Date: 01/05/2012

Introduction:

A research team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, US, has shown that plants subjected to a previous period of drought are able to better withstand new periods of water stress. The research confirms for the first time the scientific basis for what home gardeners and nursery professionals have often learned through hard experience: Transplants do better when water is withheld for a few days to drought harden them before the move. This phenomenon of drought hardening was documented when scientists compared the reaction of plants that had been previously stressed by withholding water to those not previously stressed. The pre-stressed plants bounced back more quickly the next time they were dehydrated. Specifically, the non-strained plants wilted faster than trained plants and their leaves lost water at a faster rate than trained plants. Plant nurseries adopting this drought hardening process could ensure smallholder farmers in drought-prone regions.

(ScienceDaily, 15/03/2012)

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