While it is debatable whether the fountain of youth exists, the resurrection plant is sure to amaze. A type of lycopod native to Central America and parts of Southern Africa, the resurrection plant has the ability to desiccate during dry spells and reopen with the presence of water. For several species, the trick is to enter a state of dormancy by curling up into a ball of leaves to reduce surface area and preserve whatever water remains.
More commonly, plants when desiccated lose water in their cells. This causes the inner membrane to detach from the cell wall, thus killing the plant. In a recent research article, it was noted that certain resurrection plant species like Myrothamnus flabellifolia and Craterostigma plantagineum have arabinan-rich polymers that help to maintain flexibility in cell walls for rehydration.
Such an ability may have applications in current agricultural techniques. It would be ideal to isolate the gene responsible for rehydration of these plants to create more drought-tolerant crops. In fact, this process has already begun. According to another recent study, several transcripts have been found in certain resurrection species to influence metabolism and cell-wall production.
(Image: Greg Willis Industries)