(Mirror Daily, United States) – They may be some delicious fruit, but scientists are now getting excited over the fact that pineapples hold the secret to surviving the drought.
Indeed it is one the most loved pieces of fruit in the world, enjoyed in a variety of ways but mostly in a delicious upside down cake or a nice cool pina colada.
However, there is much more to the beloved plant than that. Scientists have now been able to sequence its genome and find out specific things about its high tolerance to lack of humidity and, also, about the special type of photosynthesis it’s capable of.
These two processes the pineapple plant undergoes are linked. Normally, plants have two ways of making photosynthesis. The first one, found in most plants, is called C3 and it involves building up tissues. The second one, employed by the pineapple, is called CAM, which stands for crassulacean acid metabolism.
Why it’s important is because the CAM type of photosynthesis only uses 20 per cent of the amount of water the other type uses. Apart from that, the plants that use CAM, pineapples included, are able to live in arid areas, where other plants have no chance.
Some of the genes that are responsible for the CAM form are controlled by the pineapple’s genetic circadian clock, which allows the plant to tell the difference between night and day and adjust its metabolism thusly.
This breakthrough has many implications very important to all of us, all in the context of climate change. Perhaps, by further studying the pineapple and it amazing features, scientists could find a way to help other plants adapt to warmer environments. By doing this, they could also be helping us.
The pineapple is indigenous to South America and it is believed to have originated somewhere between Brazil and Paraguay. It’s normally considered that it was domesticated some 6 000 years ago.
It was brought to Europe from Surinam, by the Dutch, back in the 1600s, when Surinam was a Dutch colony. In France, Louis the XV used to grow pineapples in the gardens of the famous Versailles.
Globally, pineapple is the second most important and most loved fruit after the banana. They are currently being grown in 80 countries and have a yearly value of approximately $8 billion. Also, because of the special type of photosynthesis they use and their strength and ability to thrive in areas where very little water is available, they are the most economically significant crop.
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