According to one of the reports that researchers from China and the U.S. have found that transgenic rice plants can provide survival strategies under drought conditions, as stated on Xinhua Net. In this regard, a transgenic plant is obtained by transferring a gene naturally, or by any of the genetic engineering techniques, from one plant to another plant. The studies published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that under severe drought conditions, it has been reported that transgenic plants trigger death of their old leaves to conserve resources for seeds and buds. This survival strategy, called senescence and it is good for plants under drought conditions, as narrated by the first author of the study from the Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology in China.
Further, in this study, this combination of death and life is similar to a triage strategy. If old leaves die, then the buds and small leaves might gain life. In addition, the researchers found that by engineering rice and the model plant Arabidopsis, high levels of protein known as PYL9 can be produced, which can be useful in increasing drought tolerance in plants. It was noted that since plants’ drought responses are controlled by the abscisic acid (ABA) hormone, which regulates growth and development and directs plants’ reaction to stress. Therefore, by altering Arabidopsis and rice, higher levels of PYL9 made them highly sensitive to ABA, which allow them to better withstand severe drought stress and causing older leaves to yellow sooner compared with the plants’ wild type counterparts, as it was revealed.
Furthermore, in the study the lead investigator of the research project noted that PYL9 transgenic rice had a 50% survival rate after a two-week drought compared with 10% survival in wild type rice. However, test for the yield and quality of the transgenic plants was not done. Further, it was revealed that we still can’t really solve the problem of drought, but we can make it better. In extreme drought conditions, even a bad yield would be better than nothing in terms of preserving human life, as it was narrated.