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Researchers at University of California San Diego have discovered particular plant enzymes that can make a big difference in food safety as the planet copes with two major problems: higher and higher levels of carbon dioxide and lower and lower water resources. The enzyme causes the plants to react to CO2 and change how they use their pores, and by manipulating the enzyme, researchers believe new, more CO2- and drought-tolerant crops could be created.
"A lot of plants have a very weak response to CO2. So even though atmospheric CO2 is much higher than it was before the industrial age and is continuing to increase, there are plants that are not capitalizing on that. They're not narrowing their pores, which would allow them to take in CO2, while losing less water," he said. "It could be that with these enzymes, you can improve how efficiently plants use water, while taking in CO2 for photosynthesis. Our data in the lab suggest that the CO2 response can be cranked up."