Combating crop floods

Researchers in the UK and US have recently identified the mechanism that helps plants survive floods, a discovery that may lead to development of flood-tolerant crops.

The work has uncovered how plants sense low oxygen levels during flood events. Under flood conditions plants become starved of oxygen, which is necessary for producing sugars that are used to generate energy. In the absence of oxygen plants must rely on existing sugar stores for growth and this dramatically reduces crop yields.

Climate change is expected to increase the incidence of flooding. This poses a particular problem for the agriculture sector. These findings may help farmers adapt to changing conditions by providing productive crop alternatives.

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