User-friendly and inexpensive techniques monitor drought stress in plants

March 04, 2023 | Biology

In the context of climate change, one of the factors that affect plant physiology on all plant ecosystems worldwide is drought. Even though new tools, such as transcriptomic or metabolomic technologies, have been designed to evaluate drought stress in plants, they are still hard to apply in natural ecosystems especially those in remote areas and developing countries.

A wide range of techniques that are available would enable researchers to detect and track drought stress in plants. Simple and expensive measures include growth or relative water content analysis. On the other hand, more complex and expensive approaches involve omics technologies. However, the costs of these generate inequalities around the world.

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Experts from the Faculty of Biology and the Institute for Research on Biodiversity (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona aimed to address the needs for effective and low-cost protocols in studying how droughts affect plants. They presented a set of very accessible techniques using only the basic laboratory equipment: precision balances, centrifuge, oven, microscope, spectrophotometer, camera, and computer.

Using those equipment, it could examine the following different parameters using tetrazolium test :

  • growth rates

  • leaf water content

  • pigments

  • leaf viability 

Tetrazolium test is an excellent indicator of a plant’s longevity. Alongside the other indicators, this method could reveal a complete picture of which species are best suited to a particular climate or how a certain crop responds to dynamic conditions in a given region.

This study offers a viable approach for biodiversity management and conservation programs which can be implemented worldwide.

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