Engineering Drought Resistant Plants

Engineering Drought Resistant Plants

Author: Xin Su

Abscisic acid (ABA) is an essential plant hormone that can mediate responses towards environmental stress including temperature increase and water deficit. ABA receptors have thus become prime targets for controlling water consumption. Instead of developing ABA agonists, a common strategy to activate ABA receptors.

Sean R. Culter and co-workers, University of California, Riverside, USA and Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA, engineered a new variant of ABA receptors that can effectively tolerate drought via agrochemical control. By using targeted mutagenesis and functional selections, the researchers identified a modified ABA receptor with in vitro and in vivo nanomolar sensitivity to mandipropamid, a commercial fungicide. The new engineered receptor is able to improve the survival of Arabidopsis (rockcress) without water supply upon mandipropamid treatment.

This study demonstrates that synthetic biology is a viable general strategy to manipulate plant physiology.


 

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