Biotech Updates

New Compounds that Keep Plants Fresh

April 11, 2018

A research group from Nagoya University and Tohoku University has discovered new compounds that can control stomatal movements in plants. The research team found compounds that show stomata closing activity, which is expected to be useful for drought tolerance to suppress withering of plants, and also stomatal opening activity, which would lead to increased carbon dioxide uptake by plants.

Regulation of stomatal openings is essential for plant growth as well as survival in response to various environmental conditions. Stomata consist of a pair of guard cells and open in response to the blue light present in sunlight. Opening of stomata leads to carbon dioxide uptake, explaining why photosynthesis occurs during the day. When plants are under dark conditions (night) and/or drought stress, the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) is biosynthesized and induces stomata closure to prevent water loss from the plant.

Using the herb Benghal dayflower as a model plant, the research team screened over 20,000 compounds. They managed to find hit compounds after a year of random screening. They found 9 compounds that suppress light-induced stomatal opening by more than 50%, and 2 compounds that induce stomatal opening even in the dark.

"This was the best moment in our research, to find that the molecules that we had discovered had an effect on suppressing the withering of leaves," says study leader Professor Toshinori Kinoshita. "The fact these compounds induce stomatal closure by a different mechanism to the plant hormone, ABA is important."

For more, read the news release from Nagoya University.