Scientists have developed a method of learning how plants and algae work, in which plants are analysed by analysing their chemical compounds, to create a ‘toolkit’ for botanist jobs.
The study, published in the journal Plant and Cell Chemistry, has been led by the University of Manchester.
The scientists analysed the chemical compounds of the leaves of the world’s largest flowering plant, the alpine bluebell, and created a chemical toolkit that can be used to extract information from the plants’ chemistry.
“This is the first systematic synthesis of plant- and algae-derived compounds in this way,” said lead researcher Dr David Beeson, from the University’s Department of Botany and Plant Biology.
“These compounds can then be used for plant breeding and plant genetic engineering.”
Dr Beeson said that if the results can be applied to other plants, the toolkit would be able to tell a plant’s maker what to grow, for example, by analys.
The researchers analysed more than 200 compounds of bluebells leaves and compared them with the compounds extracted from flowers, which contain the same compounds.
They also used the chemical tools to find out how plants respond to different chemicals in water.
The research has the potential to help the plant sciences sector.
“We are looking at plants and their interactions with other plants that are out there in the environment,” Dr Beeson explained.
“And, as we know, the more plants we have, the bigger the environmental footprint.”
To see the study, watch the video above.
The findings are based on a new toolkit for botany.
“By looking at the chemistry we can make predictions about what will happen in the future,” Dr James Pritchard, an expert in plant and soil chemistry from the Natural History Museum, told BBC Sport.
“So we can predict what we’ll find in the soil or in the water, or we can even predict what the plant will be doing at the time we look at it.”
Dr Pritcher said it was important to understand the chemistry behind the plants we grow.
“It’s interesting to understand what they’re doing in their natural environment, because it tells us a lot about how plants work in the wild,” he said.
“There’s a lot of information that comes from studying these plants.”
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