Discover how stressed plants create their own medicine

A group of researchers from the University of California Riverside (United States) revealed that plants produce their own medicine, specifically salicylic acid (aspirin), as a means of regulation and protection against the stress produced by the various threats present in their environment, such as insects, excessive heat and drought.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looked at what the response to environmental stress was like in the cells of Arabidopsis, a herbaceous plant genus of the brassicaceae family, although the research group hopes to apply this response to many other types of plants, including those grown as food. This type of environmental stress affects all living organisms. In general, this stress causes the formation of EOR molecules (reactive oxygen species) that cause cellular damage. At the level of these molecules in plants can trigger two situations: an excessive production of EOR can take the plant to the extreme and be lethal. However, at low levels, the molecules can boost the production of protective hormones such as salicylic acid.
According to those responsible for the research, in a situation of stress caused by heat, constant sunlight or drought, the sugar production apparatus in plant cells generates an initial alarm molecule, MEcPP. The accumulation of MEcPP in plants triggers the production of salicylic acid, which in turn initiates a chain of protective actions in cells.
“Due to salicylic acid helps plants resist the stress that becomes more prevalent with climate change, being able to increase plants’ ability to produce it represents a step forward in challenging the impacts of climate change on everyday life,” said Katayoon Dehesh, lead author of the paper and UCR. distinguished professor of molecular biochemistry.
Autores del estudio

Wilhelmina Van De Ven, Laboratory Research Supervisor, left, and Jinzheng Wang, Assistant Project Scientist, at UC Riverside.
(UCR/Stan Lim)

Fuente: Universidad California Riverside