A recent study published in the journal Science Advances established that plants produce medicine to deal with stress just as like humans. In the study, the researchers examined a model plant known as Arabidopsis and found that it produced salicylic acid – commonly known as aspirin – when stressed.
Arabidopsis and many others under review were found to have self-mediation mechanisms that they use to deal with stress. Stressors for the plants include environmental hazards such as insect attacks, drought and excessive heat or cold The medicinal substances that they produce go a long way in helping the plants facilitate quick internal healing.
Furthermore, salicylic acid is generated in most plants as a sign of response to stress. The stress caused by climate change may result in high levels of salicylic acid to protect the chloroplasts in the plants, where the site of photosynthesis is.
“We’d like to be able to use the gained knowledge to improve crop resistance,” said Jin-Zheng Wang, UCR plant geneticist and co-first author of the study, reported by Interesting Engineering. “That will be crucial for the food supply in our increasingly hot, bright world.”
When stressed, human skin produces reactive oxygen species (ROS) in lieu of sunscreen, causing burns and freckles. The same occurs to plants, although high levels of ROS can be lethal. However, at low levels, ROS is important to plants in producing salicylic acid.
With this study, researchers hope to preserve and protect plants and, thereby, the entire ecosystem.
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