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To wilt or not to wilt
Date:5/14/2014

The growth hormone abscisic acid affects the ability of plants to control water loss through their leaves as well as their ability to recuperate after drought conditions. Early growth conditions are crucial to long term abscisic acid levels.

You might be familiar with this situation: At the florist you spot a pot of roses. The plant is bursting with flowery vibrancy. You buy the potted plant, bring it home, and proudly place it in a windowsill. It looks lovely! But then, already after a day or two, the leaves and blooms start to sag. What has gone wrong?

At Aarhus University the scientist Habtamu Giday Geraegziabher has an explanation. The secret lies in the stomata the tiny pores on the leaves of all plants. The stomata play a role in water loss and CO2 uptake from the leaves.

Habtamu Giday studies the physiology that lies behind the functionality of the stomata and has recently defended his PhD thesis on the subject. He discovered that the plant hormone abscisic acid underlies the differences in certain critical features of plant-water relations. These plant-water relations include control of water loss through the stomata and aspects of restoration of water uptake after the plant has been dehydrated - in other words, whether the plant will wilt or not.

Early growth conditions crucial

Usually, greenhouse plants are raised under relatively high humidity (more than 85 per cent relative humidity) to ensure optimal growing conditions. These conditions ensure that the plants do not risk suffering from water loss through their leaves. The plants respond by maintaining open stomata.

The problem arises when such a plant is brought into a consumer's home. Most private homes have a relatively low level of humidity. The plant should respond by closing its stomata to avoid water loss through its leaves. However, this does not always happen. Instead, it is as if some plants have gotten used to having their
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Contact: Habtamu Giday Gebraegziabher
habtamu.giday@agrsci.dk
Aarhus University
Source:Eurekalert  

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