University of Arizona awarded $3.5 million grant to study how plants talk

By Reyna Preciado
Published: Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 5:13pm
Updated: Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 10:08am
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Drought is worsening in Arizona, and scientists are seeking solutions for sustainable agriculture. Now, a new research project will give the plants themselves the opportunity to tell scientists what they need.

The National Science Foundation allocated $3.5 million to the University of Arizona to study plants’ responses to their environment. Researchers will use technology to analyze how plants communicate, and they’ll also attempt to communicate with the plants.

“Can we in a laboratory create new genetic circuits that allow us to kind of tell the plant, ‘Hey, we would like you to go into this particular physiological state.’ ‘We want you to go into drought stress.’ So then we can kind of study how that stress intersects with a lot of other factors,” said Rebecca Mosher, an associate professor at the School of Plant Sciences.

She says technology such as cameras will be used to send and receive signals to and from plants in order to conduct the research.