In 2018, the summer was unusually dry and hot in Germany. The lack of water severely damaged a lot of crops. Although harvest varied depending on the region, they were generally speaking poor. Without rain, the plant lacks water supply and they lose additionally stored water through the stomata in their leaves. The matter of drought stress will become a more frequent problem in the future. The question farmers are therefore asking: “What can make my plants more robust against the stress?”
Better understanding the plant’s water balance
This question is also being asked by a team of scientists under the management of the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) of the Heidelberg University. An aspect of the research was the necessity to cultivate robust varieties. In order to achieve this the complex process of the plants’ water balance with all its cogs had to be better understood beforehand. The ream occupied themselves in this context with the pore opening, which every leaf has for the absorption of CO2. The disadvantage of these pores is the loss of water through evaporation with the simultaneous high level of photosynthesis activity. Where the weather conditions are good and there is a sufficient water supply, this is not a problem. However, where there is increasing drought, this means an enormous amount of stress for the crop. To what extent the pores, also known as the stomata, are opened is regulated by the plant’s own drought stress hormone abscisic acid (ABA). But how does the plant regulate the development of this hormone? This is precisely where scientists are starting.
Sulphate indirectly closes the leaf’s pores
In 2017, the research team discovered that at the start of a drought the plant collects an increased amount of sulphate in its water pathways. In their further research work, the scientists were able to produce a link between the formation of ABA and sulphate. “We were surprised ourselves at how efficiently sulphate initiates the synthesis of ABA and thereby regulates the closure of the pores”, reported Prof. Rüdiger Hell from COS. This new understanding should therefore help to improve the crops’ tolerance of dry weather.
DOMOGRAN® 45 supports the process of ABA formation
Consequently, sulphate is evidently an important component in the complex interaction of opened and closed stomata. As DOMOGRAN® 45 makes sulphate available in a plant-available form and not as elemental sulphur, it helps fertilisers to better arm their plants against the consequences of drought.
Source: Federal Ministry of Education and Research