City scientists offer hardy crops hope

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CROPS that can cope with sudden fluctuations in the weather could be developed, thanks to fresh discoveries about the survival mechanisms of plants.

Scientists studying how tiny algae renew old or damaged cell proteins said their findings could be useful in developing crops suited to climates in which weather changes quickly.

Researchers at Edinburgh University found that the speed at which protein renewal takes place dictates how quickly plants can adapt to environmental changes, such as a sudden frost or drought.

The findings could help breed crops incorporating proteins that respond quickly to changing conditions.

Dr Sarah Martin, of the university’s Centre for Systems Biology, who led the study, said: “Our findings will be useful in understanding more about how plants are programmed for survival.”