Researchers discover the double water absorption mechanism of a desert plant's leaves

Researchers from the La Mayora Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Horticulture, in Algarrobo (Málaga), the University of Harvard (USA), and the Center for Research in Ecology and Arid Zones (CIEZA) of Venezuela, have unraveled the double water absorption mechanism of the Capparis odoratissima -a plant of tropical desert areas- that allows it to survive droughts by taking advantage of the humidity.

According to the researcher Juan Losada, the plant that was studied lives in South America in areas where rain is scarce, so it doesn't usually hydrate itself by its root. According to Losada, this double absorption occurs because the leaves of this plant have thousands of microchannels per square centimeter that are capable of absorbing the water that condenses both on the surface above and below the leaf, through idioblasts and trichomes, respectively.

The researcher of the ComFuturo program, of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), said that the finding of this unique mechanism would help them understand how plants adapt to drought and could help develop alternative mechanisms to water crops when there aren't enough water resources for irrigation.

"There will come a time when, due to the effects of climate change, there won't be enough water available for irrigation," Losada stated. This discovery will allow researchers to develop new fertilization and irrigation mechanisms, he added.

Researchers could develop fruit plants that use this method of foliar absorption to hydrate them without excessive irrigation and without wasting water resources.

Juan Losada, a researcher from the Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Hortofruticulture "La Mayora" CSIC-UMA, presenting the characteristics of Capparis odoratissima. Efeagro




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