The plant hormones called auxins are well-known for stimulating development of roots and other structures, and now University of Florida scientists have shown that auxins help plants cope with environmental stresses.
“Our findings show there’s a possibility of manipulating plant stress tolerance with auxins,” Rathinasabapathi said. “It may be possible to administer auxins to crops at critical stages of growth or possibly engineer new varieties that respond to auxins more efficiently.”
The study compared wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana plants with mutant specimens that weren’t able to transport auxins through their tissues effectively. When subjected to oxidative stress, salt and high temperatures, the wild-type plants fared better than the mutants.
Next, the team will investigate whether auxins could improve stress tolerance in rice plants. Rice is one of the world’s most widely consumed staple crops and is subject to heat and drought damage.