The Loh Down On Science

Why salt is bad for plants

A "fight or flight" response . . . in plants? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

Saying, yes, but it's really more like "stay and pray." Either way, it's a response to environmental stress.

One particular plant stressor?  Salt.

Using digital imaging, researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science took a slow-motion look at how plants react when salt is present in the soil. In their roots, plants have a permeable layer of tissue—kind of like skin—called the endodermis. Like the goose bumps you get when you sense something creepy,

the endodermis . . . responds.  If the ground is too salty or toxic, the endodermis tells the plant to release a hormone called Abscisic Acid, which slows root growth.

Understanding the salt stress response may help science develop better ways to grow crops in salty soils.

And that’s all the dirt we have time for on the secret life of plants.

 

For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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