Scientists find sweat gene in plants

Professor Kangasjarvi says the next stage in the research is to identify how to control the opening and closing of the stomata.

"First you have to know what to work with, and now we have it," he said.

"The work that we have been doing is with the so-called model plant of plant kingdom – Arabidopsis.

"There are hundreds, thousands of research groups around the world who are using Arabidopsis because it is an efficient way of looking at the general plant responses and functions of plant genes, which then can be applied to different species."

Graham Farquhar, professor of environmental biology at the Australian National University, says the work is promising.

"I think it is very important. It is a really important piece of the jigsaw," he said.

"This paper describes a protein that allows the stomata to close, and therefore to reduce water loss.

"We’ve never known until now how that came about."

Professor Farquhar believes the research will benefit Australia.

"Because Australia is the driest continent apart from the Antarctic and we rely completely on our rainfall," he said.

"We want to make sure that the water that the plants use is used most effectively."

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