How we can make crops survive without water (Jill Farrant)

As the world’s population grows and the effects of climate change come into sharper relief, we’ll have to feed more people using less arable land.

Molecular biologist Jill Farrant studies a rare phenomenon that may help: “resurrection plants” — super-resilient plants that seemingly come back from the dead. Could they hold promise for growing food in our coming hotter, drier world?

Biographic notes: A professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, Jill Farrant researches the remarkable (and little known) world of resurrection plants. These are plants that can survive extreme drought, “resurrecting” when moistened or irrigated. If we can better understand their natural preservation mechanisms and their key protectants, she suggests, it could help us develop more drought-tolerant crops to feed populations in increasingly dry and arid climates around the world. Her research may also have medical applications.

Farrant was the African/Arab States recipient of the 2012 L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science, one of only five scientists worldwide who were selected by an international jury as “researchers who will have a major impact on society and help light the way to the future.” In 2009, she was awarded an A-rating by the National Research Foundation (the first female researcher at UCT ever to receive such a rating) as well as being made a member of the UCT College of Fellows.
How we can make crops survive without water (Jill Farrant)

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