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11 Sep

Pretreating soil with ethanol protects plants from drought, study finds

Ethanol can help plants survive in times of drought says a new study conducted at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan. Led by Motoaki Seki, researchers show that adding ethanol to soil allows plants, including rice and wheat, to thrive after two weeks without any water. As ethanol is safe, cheap, and widely available, this finding offers a practical way to increase food production all over the world when water is scarce, without the need for costly, time-consuming, and sometimes controversial production of genetically modified plants. The study was published August 25 in Plant and Cell Physiology. The foreseeable future includes a steadily rising population and climate change-induced increases in water shortages, two conditions that will inevitably lead to...
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10 Sep

Botany: From the soil to the sky

Researchers put a number on the amount of energy that plants use to lift water Every day, about one quadrillion gallons of water are silently pumped from the ground to the treetops. Earth's plant life accomplishes this staggering feat using only sunlight. It takes energy to lift all this liquid, but just how much was an open question until this year. Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have calculated the tremendous amount of power used by plants to move water through their xylem from the soil to their leaves. They found that, on average, it was an additional 14% of the energy the plants harvested through photosynthesis. On a global scale, this is comparable to the production of all of humanity's hydropower. Their...
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