Water collecting plants.
I have seen people of various engineering backgrounds like mechanical, civil, geologists, etc working towards water conservation and water storage in order to eliminate the problem of water scarcity. Generally, biotechnology is considered as the technology with humongous potential. I was thinking of a possible solution which this field can provide. Finally, an idea clicked and thought decided to share with you.
Idea is very simple but to make it a reality it that much difficult. Many would even consider it as possibility on Science-fiction movies, but the fact is that the pace at which biotechnology is advancing and the kind of things it can develop (Computer running on DNA rather than Silicon chips, creation of an artificial bacteria, hybrid plants and microbes, and smallest and the smartest sensors) this idea cannot be ignored.
The idea is to develop plants which have the capability to:
1) Store water when their availability is in excess, and
2) Release water when their is scarcity.
Now, the approach one needs is that the researcher has to develop basically fuse a water guzzling root and cactus. The reason because cactus very less water for its survival while if a root (let say, eucalyptus tree roots) are used, they can uptake water like anything. The capability of root for water uptake will now be much more than actual water required for plant sustenance. Now, this water can be stored in either in the roots or if they have the capacity to make tubers than in their tuber (like potato). Science has shown that it possible to make hybrid plants which have roots of one plant type and rest of another plant part. But the obstacles which one need to address are:
1) Storage of water by the plant roots.
2) Stop the water uptake once the rainfall stops.
3) Release water from roots once soil water content is low.
The solution is to make some genetic modifications in the plants to address this obstacles. The answer for the problem of “Storage of water by the plant roots” can be seen in the naturally occurring succulent plants who have the ability to store water in their roots, stems and leaves.
The problem to “Stop the water uptake once the rainfall stops” and “Release water from roots once soil water content is low” can be managed by making tweaking their genetic make up in such a way that they become sensitive to moisture content of the soil which decrease once the rainfall stops and some studies have identified the minimum water content a soil needs to possess in order to allow the growth of the plants, so that base value can be sued as trigger point for release of water into the soil from plant. This release will stop once moisture content of the soil goes appreciably above the trigger point.
Image via Wikipedia
One important point is that the roots are preferred because they are buried under the surface, hence water stored in them will be protected from direct sunlight and evaporation. This is one of the possible solution, which can be a reality in next 10-15 years.
This article is followed by Biotechnology Way to Save Water Part Two.
Some of my other out of the box ideas are, I am sure everyone will find at least one article of their interest:
14) DNA Dove Birds
22) Plastic Milk
24) Future Decoded
25) Man in Danger