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In Drought Conditions, Vinegar May Save Plants
Study from RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, Japan


Plants produce acetate, the main component of vinegar, in times of drought. Research has shown that the more acetate a plant produces, the more likely they are to survive.
CC by SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, a leading research institute in Japan, induced greater tolerance for drought conditions by growing plants in vinegar.

Some species of the Arabidopsis plant have mutations to an enzyme that has now been linked to increased production of acetate, the main component in vinegar. Normally plants break down sugar for energy, but when presented with drought conditions, the plants switched to acetate.

The research team measured acetate levels in plants and found that the amount of acetate produced correlated to how well they survived. The plants that produced less acetate were more sensitive to drought.

To see if increasing the amount of acetate would help plants survive drought, the researchers grew plants without the mutated enzyme in drought conditions. Plants in seven test groups were grown in water, acetic acid, or another organic acid such as lactic or citric acid. After 14 days, most of the plants grown in acetic acid had survived, while nearly every other plant had died.

The researchers hope that the application of acetate to plants can become a viable alternative to genetic modification to enhance drought tolerance in plants.

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March 17, 2018, 9:35 am PDT

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Last Updated 03-15-18
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