Plants produce their own aspirin

is this a joke? No. Plants possess autonomous mechanisms to defend themselves against diseases. They protect themselves from possible threats. Yes, plants produce their own aspirin.

This is salicylic acid, which is active metabolite of aspirin. Humans resorted to it for centuries for pain and inflammation. In plants, it has a fundamental role. It helps in signaling, regulation and defense against pathogens.

Plants produce their own aspirin to deal with threats.
Plants produce their own aspirin to cope with threats.

Plants that heal themselves

Plants produce it in chloroplasts. These are the tiny green organelles where the process of photosynthesis takes place. Plant biologist Wilhelmina van de Ven of the University of California at Riverside studied it.

Environmental stress produces reactive oxygen species (ROS) in all living organisms. An example is burns from sun exposure. For plants, stress is caused by insects, drought and excessive heat. High levels of ROS in plants can be lethal. But smaller amounts have an important safety function.

The researchers used watercress for analysis. It was discovered how it responds to certain threats. It generates a chemical reaction involving salicylic acid.

This would help to know how to have more resistant plants in the future. It’s vital if we think about the food supply. “At non-lethal levels, ROS are like an emergency call to action. It allows you to produce protective hormones like salicylic acid. Which is why ROS are a double-edged sword.” Says UCR plant geneticist Jin-Zheng Wang.

The study would serve to know how to better protect plants.
The study would serve to know how to better protect plants.

Caring for crops

In addition, the researchers note that the stresses examined in this study are very much in effect. High heat, constant sunlight, and lack of water. They are experienced by plants in the world right now. And if plants have problems, so do humans.

“Those impacts go beyond our food supply. Plants clean our air by sequestering carbon dioxide. They also provide us with shade and are the habitat of numerous animals. The benefits of enhancing their survival are exponential,” say the researchers.

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