Could ‘resurrection plants’ be the future of food?

They are among the hardiest living things on Earth – could they transform the food on our plates? One scientist in South Africa believes so.

When she was a child, Jill Farrant, a molecular physiologist based at the University of Cape Town, came across an unusual plant. It seemed dead, yet when the rain fell from the sky, it sprung back to life. Her father didn’t believe her.

What Farrant saw was a “resurrection plant”, which can survive with no water for months to years. Seeing how quickly the plants recover is remarkable sight (Watch a timelapse in the video above at 1:30).

Now Farrant hopes to tap these abilities to transform food production. Resurrection plants have many of the same genes in their roots and leaves as seeds, so now she is trying to work out how to switch those genes in wheat, rice and maize crops so that they can survive droughts. See her explain how in the video at the top of the page.

The video above is part of a series called The Genius Behind: The most amazing and sometimes little known technological and scientific breakthroughs of modern times, and the innovative minds behind them.