For several years, Gallie said, a number of studies on global climate have predicted an increase in global temperature, and regional conditions of drought, which may have already begun.
"Increasing drought tolerance in crops is highly valuable to U.S. and world agriculture now, and will be even more critical as our environment continues to change as a consequence of global warming," said Gallie.
The findings by Gallie and his research team suggest that ethylene controls the level of leaf function under normal growth conditions, as well as during adverse environmental conditions.
Gallie's research with corn opens the door to producing crops better able to withstand periodic losses in rainfall, including grains, which are the most important direct source of food for livestock and for a majority of humans.
"Our discovery will assist farmers who depend on rainwater for their crops during those years when rainfall is low, particularly those who grow crops in arid areas, such as exists in many developing [is he is okay with this change] countries," said Gallie. "As global warming continues to change our own environment in the U.S., our work will be important in helping U.S. farmers continue to produce the food we need even as our climate becomes unpredictable."
Future inquiries will most likely focus on how ethylene may regulate other aspects of plant growth and development, such as during flower development and root growth, Gallie added.