The crystallization water of gypsum rocks is a relevant water source for plants
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Some minerals, like gypsum, hold water in their crystalline structure. Although still unexplored, the use of such crystallization water by organisms would point to a completely new water source for life, critical under dry conditions. Here we use the fact that the isotopic composition of free water differs from gypsum crystallization water to show that plants can use crystallization water from the gypsum structure. The composition of the xylem sap of gypsum plants during summer shows closer values to gypsum crystallization water than to free soil water. Crystallization water represents a significant water source for organisms growing on gypsum, especially during summer, when it accounts for 70-90% of the water used by shallow-rooted plants. Given the widespread occurrence of gypsum in dry lands throughout the Earth and in Mars, these results may have important implications for arid land reclamation and exobiology.
Is part ofNature Communications, 2014, vol. 5, art. 4660
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