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† Working to control a plantís stress tolerance

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Controlling a plant's stress tolerance can have a significant effect on agriculture worldwide. At the University of California, Riverside, Sean Cutler, an assistant professor of plant cell biology, found that a naturally produced stress hormone in plants called abscisic acid, or ABA, helps plants survive by inhibiting their growth in times of stress, such as drought.

Cutler:            We came at this from a chemical perspective and my lab now is working on trying to improve these chemicals and create new sorts of options for controlling stress tolerance in the field, but it's still very much research stuff. We're not at the stage where we have chemicals that farmers could spray in the field, but I think we're much, much closer to that now than we've ever been.

Narrator:       Cutler explains that researchers have known from the physiology of abscisic acid that it's a logical place to start tinkering with plants to improve water use.

Cutler:            We certainly can't claim that we've solved the problem, but a lot of people in this field believe that this particular molecule and its pathway is critical to moving forward in that area.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.