Crop Biotech Update

Nagoya Scientists Develop Molecule that Increases the Number of Stomata

September 27, 2017

Synthetic chemists and plant biologists at the Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) in Nagoya University used a chemical approach and developed small molecules to increase the number of stomata in plant leaves. The completed research is hoped to improve crop productivity and water-use efficiency as published in Chemical Communications.

Stomata are openings in plant leaves that function for gas exchange between the plant and the environment. Controlling the development and function of stomata affects plant productivity and water-use efficiency. Thus, the researchers explored on improving stomata using Arabidopsis. They identified two molecules (CL1 and CL2), which has a similar structure as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Celecoxib. Though the molecules helped increase the number of stomata in the leaves, high levels of CL1 and CL2 became toxic to the plants. Guided by the stomata increasing effect of CL1 and CL2, the team developed new compounds that increase the numbers of the stomata, while reducing the toxicity upon contact with certain plant compounds at high concentrations. After performing several synthesizing and testing, they were able to identify ortho-anisyl substituted ZA144, which has the methoxy group in the ortho-position, as the most effective molecule in increasing the number of stomata without severe toxicity.

The results of the study may help other scientists in the identification and synthesis of compounds that can increase biomass through stomatal control.

Read the abstract of the research article at Chemical Communications or the research highlights from Nagoya University.