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University of Arizona awarded $3.5 million grant to study how plants talk

Drought is worsening in Arizona, and scientists are seeking solutions for sustainable agriculture. Now, a new research project will give the plants themselves the opportunity to tell scientists what they need.

The National Science Foundation allocated $3.5 million to the University of Arizona to study plants’ responses to their environment. Researchers will use technology to analyze how plants communicate, and they’ll also attempt to communicate with the plants.

“Can we in a laboratory create new genetic circuits that allow us to kind of tell the plant, ‘Hey, we would like you to go into this particular physiological state.’ ‘We want you to go into drought stress.’ So then we can kind of study how that stress intersects with a lot of other factors,” said Rebecca Mosher, an associate professor at the School of Plant Sciences.

She says technology such as cameras will be used to send and receive signals to and from plants in order to conduct the research. 

Reyna Preciado started her internship with KJZZ in August 2021. She is a senior at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, focusing on community-related stories.She previously had been pursuing a major in biochemistry, but switched directions after becoming a server. During her time serving, she found that so many people had stories to share and so many voices deserved to be heard.She loved to write in her AP English classes in high school, so she made the decision to use her writing and communication skills to major in broadcast journalism. It was always a dream of hers to become a news anchor after being cast as an anchor in a fourth-grade newscast. It was silly, but it stuck with her, and she was eager to follow her dream when she was finally inspired to change directions. Now, she continues being inspired by the many voices within her community that have been waiting for an opportunity to be able to address what's important to them.When she is not working on a story, she likes to cook, sing and hang out with her crazy toddler.