Science News

Viagra for Plants

Sat, 13th Apr 2002

Part of the show Police Use of Science to Solve Crimes - Naked Scientists

Scientists at the University of the West of England (UWE) have discovered a previously unknown link between wilting plants and human impotence ! They hope that the research could spur the production of a viagra-like compound to stop plants wilting in dry weather. Plants flop over when the weather is too hot because they lose water through small pores called stomata which are on the undersides of their leaves. Funnily enough, the research team at UWE have found that nitric oxide, a substance involved in maintaining an erection in people, also closes the stomata in plants to keep them standing when the weather is dry. The serious aspect to their work is that they are hoping to develop a viagra-like chemical for plants which would enable them to tolerate much drier growing conditions - something that might occur sooner rather than later if the predictions of global-warming experts turn out to be correct.

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