Indian scientists discover 62 plants that can live without water in Western Ghats

Gujarat, National

Scientists have discovered 62 new species of plants that can potentially survive without water due to their capability to withstand extreme dehydration. These plants, Desiccation-Tolerant Vascular Species, are capable of surviving extreme water scarcity as they enter a state of dormancy when water is unavailable.

They switch off their dormancy when the water becomes available again.

Researchers said that the newly discovered plants could have a wide-ranging role in agriculture, particularly in areas with a scarcity of water.

The findings related to the discovery were published in the Nordic Journal of Botany.

Plants that survive without water: What India’s government said?

India’s Ministry of Science and Technology said that, DT plants have been relatively understudied. While rock outcrops are common landscapes in the Western Ghats (WG), the DT plants in the region were not officially discovered.

Who discovered these plants?

The discovery was made by a team of researchers from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) Pune. A total of 16 of the newly identified species are Indian endemic, and 12 are exclusive to the Western Ghats outcrops.

The team led by Dr Mandar Datar, analysed the outcrop species for their DT properties by seasonal field observations, followed by relative water content estimation protocols. Nine genera of DT plants are reported as new, also from a global perspective, with Tripogon capillatus representing the first record of an epiphytic DT angiosperm.

“In addition to rock outcrops, tree trunks in the partially shaded forests were also found to be crucial habitats for DT species, as per the study,” the ministry said, adding that findings of the study can provide valuable insights into the biodiversity and ecology of the Western Ghats.

“Besides, understanding the mechanisms by which DT plants can tolerate dehydration, could lead to the development of crops that are more drought-resistant and require less water,” the Ministry said in a release.

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