How Plants Produce Their own Aspirin Under Stress

Due to the climate change, stressed out plants were found producing their own Aspirin in order to cope.

Due to the climate change, stressed out plants were found producing their own Aspirin in order to cope.

Plants Produce Their own Aspirin Under Stress
Green Plants on soil. (Image: Unsplash)

According to research, Plants were found producing their own medicine in order to cope with environmental dangers to themselves. These include insects, the urge of thirst, droughts, and heatwaves. As such, Plants produce salicylic acid, otherwise known as Aspirin.

Uses of Aspirin

This acid is commonly used by humans for centuries to counter pain and inflammation. Whereas for plants, it plays the role of signaling, regulation, and pathogen defense.

Production of Aspirin

It is produced in chloroplasts i.e., the tiny green organelles where the process of photosynthesis is carried out, it is typically generated in response to stress. Plant biologist Wilhelmina van de Ven from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) says; "It's like plants use a painkiller for aches and pains, just like we do". To understand the complex chain of reactions that the plants produce while under stress, van de Ven and her team performed biochemical analyses on plants mutated to block the effects of key stress signaling pathways:

Types of Stress

One of the most common types of stress the plants face are the environmental hazards, which produces reactive oxygen species (ROS), which is common to all living organisms rather than plants only. To further sub categorize this type of stress, for plants it usually comes in the shape of unfriendly insects, drought, and excessive heat. While high levels of ROS in plants can be lethal, smaller amounts have an important safety function and regulating them can be advantageous for humans.

Plant Stress Types and Impact
Plant Stress Types and Impact (Source

Experiment to identify causes of Aspirin Production

A “Rockcress” model plant was used by researchers for the experiment, an early warning molecule called MEcPP was focused on by them, which has also been seen in bacteria and malaria parasites. The experiment indicated that MEcPP is accumulated in a plant, it triggers a chemical reaction and response, which includes salicylic acid. Consequently, researchers indicate that this knowledge could prove useful in modifying plants to make them more resilient to environmental hazards in the future.

Plant geneticist Jin-Zheng Wang from UCR says that; "levels, ROS are like an emergency call to action, enabling the production of protective hormones such as salicylic acid, ROS are a double-edged sword, and We'd like to be able to use the gained knowledge to improve crop resistance. That will be crucial for the food supply in our increasingly hot, bright world.

MEcPP Module

Although the experiment mentioned how the MEcPP module is present in plants that contributes to the production of aspirin, however lot many things are still unknown about it, which if understood correctly could help scientists harness it for their own use.

The Consequences of the Prophecy

Scientists mention that more and more plants all over the world are being affected by this phenomenon, and it is a rather bad sign because global warming is getting worse each passing day and if plants cannot bear these changes, humans most definitely cannot. Plants clean the air by “sequestering” CO2, if they are unable to do so, humanity is doomed.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only.