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August 21st, 2017 / Phys.org

A solution to help farmers to grow crops in dry areas or during stretches of drought may depend on breeding and cultivating plants that protect themselves with a thicker layer of leaf wax, a new study shows.

Sarah Feakins, a scientist at USC who has studied leaf wax in the context of climate change, teamed up recently with researchers at Texas A&M University to research and develop drought-resistant crops. During tests with growing winter wheat, a type harvested for yeast-based breads and other such products, the team found that the cultivars in a high and dry area of Texas generated more protective wax on their leaves as a measure to protect themselves against more extreme conditions.

The results mimicked what scientists have found in leaves in natural ecosystems: those that survive in dry climates have higher concentrations of wax. Read more