Researchers discover protein that helps plants tolerate drought, flooding, other stresses

August 20, 2013 |

In New Hampshire, a team including Dartmouth researchers have uncovered a protein that plays a vital role in how plant roots use water and nutrients, a key step in improving the production and quality of crops and biofuels.  Plant roots use their endodermis, or inner skin, as a cellular gatekeeper to control the efficient use and movement of water and nutrients from the soil to the above-ground parts of the plant.

A key part of that cellular barrier is the Casparian strip, which also helps plants to tolerate stresses such as salinity, drought and flooding.  The researchers found a protein, ESB1, to be involved in the deposition of lignin patches early in the development of the Casparian strip and the fusion of these patches into a continuous band of lignin as the Casparian strip matures.

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