Drought: the trick of a glass of alcohol to protect your plants

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What if alcohol was, for once, the solution? On August 25, 2022, a group of researchers published a study in the journal Plant and Cell Physiology which may well surprise many.

Plants naturally produce ethanol. One hypothesis was that this alcohol was produced to protect plants from high heat, reports the Huffington Post. This is precisely what the scientists sought to verify by carrying out this study.

They did an experiment in the laboratory, growing wheat and rice, which they watered daily. Then, in part of the pots, the researchers added ethanol for three days, before depriving all the plants of water for a total of two weeks.

The result was clear, 73% of the plants that were fed with alcohol survived after being rehydrated. Conversely, untreated plants are less than 5% to have survived under the same conditions.

The conclusion is therefore clear, alcohol would allow plants to survive longer without water. Could this avoid losing flowers and other plants when you go on vacation? A small glass of alcohol might keep them going until someone can rehydrate them.

Be careful though, as in humans, alcohol in plants should be consumed in moderation because, as the study states, “a high concentration of ethanol inhibits their growth”.

This discovery could also prove important for the field of agriculture. “External application of ethanol to plants would be a less expensive agricultural method [than genetic modification of plants] to improve drought tolerance of various plants,” Motoaki Seki, lead author of the study, told our reporters. CNN colleagues.

The next stage of the study will now be to carry out tests in outdoor fields to verify the reliability of this technique in real conditions.