Plants watered with diluted alcohol could survive periods of drought better than those watered with pure water. This is suggested by a study at Oxford University. A group of researchers watered rice, wheat and pod cress each with 5, 10 or 20 mm ethanol, the respective control group with pure water. Afterwards, all plants were exposed to a two-week drought phase.
Only about five percent of the normally watered plants survived the drought. In contrast, 75 percent of the plants that had received ethanol survived. The best results were in the group treated with 10 mm alcohol. The researchers also found that the temperature in the plant leaves watered with ethanol was higher than in those that had received pure water. The alcohol had led to an earlier closure of the stomata and thus to less evaporation. An up-regulation of genes related to sucrose and starch metabolism, among others, was also found. In addition, the scientists registered an accumulation of sugars, glucosinolates and amino acids, leading to improved drought tolerance and sustainable plant growth.
According to the study, these results show a new survival strategy for increasing plant production under water-scarce conditions, which should also become interesting for more and more wine-growing regions.
(al / Source: Oxford University Press; Photo: 123rf.com)