Scientists from Heidelberg University led an international research team who came up with this discovery.
Mineral sulfate is absorbed by plants from groundwater. The research team discovered how the production of the drought stress hormone ABA in plants is controlled by sulfate, thereby contributing to drought-resistance. The results of this study will help in improving scientists' understanding of how the drought-stress signal travels from the roots to the leaves.
For photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide through the pores present in their leaves. When rainfall is low, these openings spell disaster for the plants because strong sunlight and active photosynthesis draw a lot of water through the open pores. Due to less rainfall, fresh water from the roots will not be available, which leads to death of the plants. The hormone ABA controls how far the pores open in order to regulate the water loss of the plant.
Researchers had earlier found that the nutrient sulfate gets accumulated in the water transport pathways of the plants when the soil begins to dry out. In this study, the research team has shown that sulfate plays a critical signaling role in supply of water to plants. In this project, researchers from Germany, China, Pakistan, and Italy participated. The project was carried under the auspices of the ‘Cellular Surveillance and Damage Response’ Collaborative Research Centre of Heidelberg University. The results of the study were published in the journals The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology.