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Common weed may be ‘super plant’ that holds key to drought-resistant crops

One of the ways that producers might be able to adapt to the changing climate is by producing new crop varieties that are more resistant to drought, since drought is expected to increase in the future as temperatures get warmer and evaporation and evapotranspiration increase. Plant breeders are looking for plants that have characteristics that they might be able to incorporate into future crops. This interesting story in Physics Today describes one such plant, purslane, and how its unique chemistry integrates two distinct metabolic pathways to create a novel type of photosynthesis that enables the weed to endure drought while remaining highly productive, according to a report in the August 5 edition of the journal Science Advances.

Portulaca oleracea, an edible plant grown almost any where in the United States. Blooms yellow, small flowers. Credit: ZooFari/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0