Watch the amazing moment an entire forest practices deep breathing (DannyDutch)
Because breathing is usually an involuntary action, we sometimes forget how complicated it is.
But biologists have gained new insight into the complex process of respiration in plants, which could have major implications for the way humanity can be fed in the future.
A close-up video of plants shows how they "breathe" in real time - and this documentation may have important implications for the future of all of us.
The video was filmed by biologists from the University of California, San Diego during research funded by the US National Science Foundation. During the filming, the biologists discovered how the plants use their stomata - tiny openings that regulate the exchange of gases between the plant and the environment. There are many stomata in each leaf, but they are very small and cannot be see them with the naked eye
Knowing how plants use their pionies to open and close in response to changing carbon dioxide levels may allow scientists to produce crops strong enough for a changing environment, according to National Science Foundation spokesman Jared Dashhoff.
"The researchers hope that harnessing this mechanism may lead to future engineering of plant water use efficiency and carbon uptake, which is critical as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to rise," he told the Southwest News Service. exposed to the elements, and water from the plant is lost to the surrounding air—which can dry them out. Thus, plants must balance carbon dioxide consumption with water vapor loss by controlling how long the stomata remain open."
This is how it looks
Research leader Julian Schroeder added: "The response to changes is critical to plant growth and regulates how efficiently the plant uses water - which is important as we see increased drought and rising temperatures."
As the climate changes, both the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the temperature rise, which affects the balance between the entry of carbon dioxide and the loss of water vapor through the tundra.
If plants, especially crops like wheat, rice and corn, fail to reach a new balance, they risk dehydration, farmers risk losing valuable produce and more people around the world risk starvation.
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"Scientists have long understood the stomata and the balance between carbon dioxide consumption and water loss," Dashhoff stated, "but what they didn't know, until now, is how plants sense carbon dioxide to signal the stomata to open and close in response to changes in carbon dioxide levels. This knowledge will now allow researchers to edit these signals - so that plants can achieve the right balance between taking in carbon dioxide and losing water - and allow scientists and plant breeders to produce crops strong enough for the environment of the future."
Dashhoff added that the researchers are so excited by their findings that they have now filed a patent and are exploring ways to translate their findings into tools for crop growers and farmers.
Richard Cyr, director of the National Science Foundation program, said the findings are nothing less than "two rules of the game."
"Determining how plants control their physiology under changing CO2 levels creates a different kind of opening - an opening to new avenues of research and possibilities for dealing with societal challenges," he declared.