Australian scientists have discovered that plants can learn to "forget" the effects of stressful weather events in a development which could assist researchers better prepare plants and crops to deal with extreme conditions.
In a statement released on Friday, Professor Barry Pogson from the Australian National University's (ANU) Research School of Biology said his team of scientists exposed plants to what called "light stress" for 60 minutes, and then allowed the plants 60 minutes to recover.
The results of the study, published in The Plant Cell journal, showed that the plants were able to "reset" to their "pre-stress state" to ensure they continued to create food and therefore stay healthy.
"Plants have evolved over millennia to endure periods of drought, blistering sun and heat, among other environmental stresses," Pogson said on Friday.
"We found that plants are able to recover phenomenally well from some environmental stresses by quickly resetting to the pre-stress state."
"Stress is very important because it has a big effect on chloroplasts, which play a vital role in the process by which plants make their own food."
Meanwhile lead author of the research, Dr. Peter Crisp, said the plants were basically able to ignore the stress by switching off their so-called stress messengers.
"Plants do indeed learn to live in harsh and changing environments, and learning to forget stress rapidly is just one of the ways they achieve this," Crisp said on Friday.
"A vital aspect of a plant's recovery is the transition from defence to growth, which involves resetting the expression of genes back to a pre-stress state."
He added that the research may soon help scientists develop ways to "improve the recovery process" for stressed or damaged crops.