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"Flood Plan" -- The Discovery Files

The Discovery Files
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Experts at the University of California, Riverside and The University of Nottingham report that they have discovered how plants sense low oxygen levels to survive flooding--a finding that could lead eventually to the production of high-yielding, flood-tolerant crops.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

(Sound effect: water submergence sound) 'In-depth' Finding.

(Sound effect: theme music) I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: sound of rushing water) In recent years, major flooding has led to catastrophic crop losses around the world. Plants simply cannot tolerate full or partial submersion for long periods. It's an oxygen thing. Researchers from UC Riverside and the University of Nottingham have discovered how plants sense low oxygen levels to survive flooding, a finding that could lead to the development of more flood-resistant crops.

The study identified the mechanism that controls proteins that turn certain genes on and off. When normal oxygen levels are present, these proteins are degraded and destroyed, when the plant is o2-starved, these proteins actually become stable. That stability changes gene expression and metabolism that enhance survival in low oxygen conditions brought on by flooding.

The discoveries open the door for scientists to develop ways to manipulate the process in a wide range of plants. In the future, we may be able to boost the worlds food supply by giving crops a 'natural' tolerance to being submerged.

Navigating our way from flood--to food.

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's national science foundation. Federally sponsored research--brought to you, by you! Learn more at or on our podcast.

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