The Making of Drought Resistant Tomatoes

By - Ravisha Poddar

A new study suggests that Suberin, a polymer found in plant roots, can act as a ‘toolbox of ways’ to help plants cope with water stress and droughts. 

Redefined Role

-    Protectant for cell wall against pathogens

-    A physical barrier, preventing water loss in tissues 

-    A water-repellent polymer in plant cell walls 

What is Suberin?

Plants frequently adapt to environmental changes to thrive in severe conditions which is why suberin blocks water from flowing up to the leaves during water stress to avoid water loss.

Intelligent Plants

Suberin is usually produced by endodermal cells inside the roots. However, in tomatoes, suberin is produced in exodermal cells, right below the skin of the root.

Sister Polymers

New study suggests that exodermal suberin serves the same function as endodermal suberin. Tomato plants will not be able to cope with water stress without it.

Lost and Found

To delve deeper, researchers have created mutant strains that lack functional versions of exodermal cells involved in suberin production.

Converging Methodologies

They compared mutant plants with normal plants and found :

Comparing Mutant

2. Normal plants wilted in 10 days post water scarce

1.   Both plants grew normally during regular watering

Having shown suberin’s wonders in a greenhouse setting, plans are underway to test suberin’s drought-proofing potential in the field.

Onto the Field

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