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A compound reduces the impact of drought and improves productivity in tomato plants

VALENCIA, 6 Mar.

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A compound reduces the impact of drought and improves productivity in tomato plants

VALENCIA, 6 Mar. (EUROPA PRESS) -

A team from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants (IBMCP) - a joint center of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) - has discovered how hexenyl butanoate (HB) acts , aroma that tomato plants emit to resist attacks by bacteria and that is essential to protect them against threats such as drought.

Researchers have confirmed that its mode of action is novel, as it works independently of the classic hormone that participates in the process of stomatal closure (abscisic acid).

In this way, it is "key" to protect plants against threats such as drought or different pathologies that can put crops at risk. The work has been published in the journal Horticulture Research, from the 'Nature' group.

"Given the importance that stomatal control has on water stress, treatments with HB relieve the symptoms caused by drought and improve the productivity of crops such as tomato. Thus, in the context of severe drought that we are currently experiencing in Spain , the development of this type of compounds represents a great advance to face this situation", highlights in a statement Purificación Lisón, researcher at the IBMCP and professor of the Department of Biotechnology of the Higher Technical School of Agronomic and Natural Environment Engineering (ETSIAMN). ) from the UPV.

Among other advantages, the UPV and CSIC team highlights that the HB compound allows resistance to diseases whose entry route is the stomata. In the case of tomatoes, its application allows protection against Pseudomonas syringae, a bacteria that causes great damage, especially in cold and humid climatic conditions, even preventing the fruit from being suitable for marketing.

In addition, the IBMCP team has also verified its usefulness in other crops such as potatoes, to which it gives more resistance to Phytophthora infestans, a parasite that produces a disease known as late blight or downy mildew and that causes great losses.

To study the mode of action of the HB compound, the IBMCP team carried out different strategies: genetic, through the use of biosynthesis mutants in certain molecules; pharmacological, with exogenous treatments with inhibitors of the possible processes involved; by analysis for the detection of phosphorylations; and transcriptomics, using new massive sequencing techniques (RNAseq) that allow us to understand the reprogramming mechanisms of the treated plants in terms of mRNAs.

"Our results support the use of HB as a bioactive natural compound for a more sustainable agriculture. Currently, there are no alternative products on the market with the capacity to produce stomatal closure," adds Mª Pilar López Gresa, also a researcher at the IBMCP (CSIC). -UPV) and professor at the Department of Biotechnology at the ETSIAMN-UPV.

Because stomatal closure participates in a large number of processes in the plant, in addition to its application to deal with drought and bacteria or parasites, the IBMCP team studies new uses of HB such as, for example, the synchronization of the flowering, the induction of flowering and fruit set, as well as the advancement of ripening.

The HB compound was patented in 2018 by the UPV and the CSIC and licensed by the company Químicas Meristem SL.

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