Scientists Discover How Plants Breathe

July 10, 2019

A new study led by scientists at The University of Sheffield's Institute for Sustainable Food has discovered how plants create networks of air channels, the lungs of the leaf, to transport carbon dioxide (CO2) to their cells.

The scientists used genetic manipulation techniques to reveal that when plants have more stomata, it forms more airspace. The channels act like bronchioles – the tiny passages that carry air to the exchange surfaces of human and animal lungs. In collaboration with colleagues at the University of Nottingham and Lancaster University, the team showed that the movement of CO2 through the pores most likely determines the shape and scale of the air channel network.

The study also shows that wheat plants have been bred to have few pores on their leaves and fewer air channels, which make wheat leaves denser and allows them to be grown with less water.

For more details, read the news article at The University of Sheffield website.