Published in the scientific journal “Nature Plants”, the study was led by Elena Baena – González, main researcher at the Gulbenkian Insitute of Science. According to a press release from Gulbenkian Institute, the study “raises questions about how the transition from the aquatic to the terrestrial environment occurred during evolution and reveals important data than can help to define strategies for developing crops that are more resistant to drought”.

Remembering that plants use photosynthesis to convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into the sugars they need to grow, and water as an essential factor in plant growth, the Institute explains that “plants have developed mechanisms to monitor availability of water in the soil and communicate that information to distant tissues”.

The researchers found that the hormone's signals are linked to a "highly conserved regulatory system made up of two proteins", which control the growth of all eukaryotes (animals, plants, fungi and protists).

The researchers believe that this system may have been crucial for the establishment of plants in the terrestrial environment, by keeping resource expenditure and growth to a minimum when water was scarce.