Stomata density regulator identified
Researchers at the US Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana) have identified a gene mutation in thale cress ( Arabidopsis thaliana) that reduces the density of stomata on plant leaves. That leads to decreasing water requirements without adversely affecting carbon assimilation efficiency as measured by biomass accumulation. They found that one allele of the gene, GTL1, reduced stomatal density by 25%. The lower number of stomata resulted in a reduction of plant transpiration rates by 25%, while still having the same carbon dioxide intake as normal plants. The scientists also found that a 60% reduction in stomatal density conferred a 20% loss of biomass. "This shows there is potential to reduce transpiration without a yield penalty," research team leader Mike Mickelbart notes.