UC researchers use a plant's own natural responses to drought-stress
of UC Riverside has a way to help plants use less water. When plants experience a water shortage they produce a hormone, abscisic acid, that binds to guard cells known as stomata, which then close to reduce water loss. When the receptor for the hormone on the guard cells is modified to bind an inexpensive chemical instead, it can be sprayed onto plants to close the guard cells. They have tried this successfully in the lab in tomato plants and mustard seed plants. Such an approach may help farmers in the future deal with drought and save crop yield.