In the fight against the effects of drought on crops, scientists have uncovered some stunning facts about a certain tropical fruit. According to their paper matter, pineapples help against the drought. The key to this problem seems to be hidden somewhere in the genome of the pineapple.
The exotic fruit is being cultivated in about 80 countries all over the globe and it is very popular because of its unique taste and capability of surviving in harsh weather conditions.
By analyzing its genetic constitution, scientists were able to find out why the mere pineapple can fare so well during droughts. It seem that the key to deciphering the mystery resides in how the fruit is capable of transforming lightinto chemical energy. The process in which a plant converts natural or artificial light into energy is called photosynthesis. Basically, through this process, a plant gets everything it needs from the Sun and turns it into fuel.
The pineapple employs a different type of photosynthesis. This process not only ensures that the fruit can survive even in harsh weather conditions but it also cuts down water usage to 20 percent.
The pineapple’s photosynthesis process is called crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM).
CAM photosynthesis is what scientists call a carbon fixation pathway, meaning the plant capable of transforming carbon dioxide into organic compounds, necessary for an organism’s well-being.
Plants using this type of photosynthesis are capable of closing their stomata (pore employed by a plant in order to facilitate gas exchange), found in the leaves, during the day and open them up again during nighttime. This process ensures that the plant doesn’t lose liquids during daytime so that it can safely collect carbon dioxide during the night.
Professor Ray Ming, from the University of Illinois, and part of the team that studied how the pineapple’s genome can help crops survive the drought stated that the results are very encouraging. He also added that this is the first time scientists were able to discover a link between the genes capable of producing crassulacean acid metabolism photosynthesis and the plant’s circadian clock (an organism capability of coordinating internal functions according to the day-night cycle).
Pineapples help against the drought if scientists can discover a way to mimic the genes that produces CAM synthesis. Once they found a way around this problem they can easily graft these genes on to other plants in order to activate their self-defense mechanism against the effects of the drought.