Plants that are stressed out make their own aspirin. This is how:

When we have a headache or a mild flu, we take medicine. Plants also have ways to heal themselves. They protect themselves from things like bugs, drought, and heat by making salicylic acid, which is also known as aspirin and has been used to treat pain and inflammation for hundreds of years.

Salicylic acid is made in chloroplasts, and it is usually made in response to stress from climate change.

Wilhelmina van de Ven, a plant biologist and co-author of the study from the University of California, Riverside (UCR), said in a statement, “It’s like plants use painkillers like we do.”

Scientists looked at Arabidopsis as a model plant and wrote about their findings in the journal Science Advances.

Jin-Zheng Wang, a plant geneticist at UCR and co-first author of the new study, said, “We’d like to be able to use what we’ve learned to make crops more resistant.” “That will be very important for the food supply in a world that is getting warmer and brighter.”

Plants were put through biochemical tests.
When people don’t use sunscreen, their skin makes ROS, or reactive oxygen species. This leads to burns and freckles. In the same way, environmental stresses cause plants to make ROS, which are dangerous at high levels.


ROS, on the other hand, is important for plant cells at low levels. “At levels that don’t kill, ROS are like a call to action in an emergency, letting protective hormones like salicylic acid be made,” Wang said. “ROS has two sides to it.”

So, to figure out how plants respond to stress, researchers did biochemical tests on plants that had been changed to stop key stress signaling pathways from working. They paid special attention to a “first alarm molecule” called MEcPP, which has also been found in bacteria and malaria parasites.

Salicylic acid makes it easier for plants to handle stress.
The researchers want to find out more about MEcPP, which is also made by bacteria and malaria parasites. When MEcPP builds up in plants, it causes salicylic acid to be made, which starts a chain of protective actions in the cells.

The acid then protects the chloroplasts, which are where photosynthesis takes place.

“Because salicylic acid helps plants deal with stresses that are becoming more common due to climate change, being able to make plants make more of it is a step forward in fighting the effects of climate change on everyday life,” said Katayoon Dehesh, the lead author of the paper and a distinguished professor of molecular biochemistry at the University of California, Riverside.

“These effects go beyond what we eat,” she said.

When plants are in trouble, it’s a sign of what’s to come. That means we’re in trouble, too.

“Plants clean the air by taking in carbon dioxide. They also give us shade and make homes for many animals. The benefits of helping them live longer are huge, “she told me.

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