Nature reports on a new strain of genetically modified drought-resistant tobacco. OK, so some people are probably thinking this sounds like the least healthy plant ever, but it could be important. The plant uses an amazing 70 percent less water. And what saves tobacco from global warming could save food supplies as well:
Thus far, the researchers — led by plant biologist Eduardo Blumwald of the University of California, Davis — have focused on tobacco, which is easy to genetically manipulate. They are now trying the same approach in tomatoes, rice and wheat.
Drought is the major culprit behind crop losses worldwide, and water shortages are expected to become still more important as climate change alters rainfall patterns and increases the proportion of arid land in some key agricultural regions…. In many parts of the world, water is already as expensive as fertilizer, says Blumwald.
As expensive as fertilizer… and it used to just fall from the sky….