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Transgenic plant may thrive under global warming-induced drought

Transgenic plant may thrive under global warming-induced drought

Transgenic plant may thrive under global warming-induced drought
November 26, 2007

Researchers have created a drought-resistant tobacco plant through genetic engineering, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The work could eventually lead to the development of crops that are better able to survive higher temperatures and reduced rainfall associated with global warming.

Rosa M. Rivero, a plant scientist at the University of California at Davis, and colleagues developed a strain of plants in which the IPT–a gene that prevents a plant from dropping its leaves–is “induced by maturation or drought stress.” The researchers found that the transgenics grew better under drought conditions than conventional plants.

H2O2-diaminobenzidine (DAB)-staining in WT and PSARK::IPT4-24 plants during drought. Brown spots in the leaves represent H2O2 tissue localization. Image courtesy of PNAS/National Academy of Sciences (copyright 2007).

“The authors inserted their compound gene into the DNA of tobacco plants and observed as, under normal conditions, the transgenics grew similarly to controls. But after 15 days without water, the control plants withered,” explained a statement from PNAS. “When watering was resumed, the control plants died, while the transgenics resumed growth. Transgenics also grew well on only one-third of the normal water allowance.”

The authors suggests that transgenic plants could allow farmers to conserve water and get higher crop yields in dry conditions.

“The production of drought-tolerant crops able to grow under restricted water regimes without diminution of yield would minimize drought-related losses and ensure food production in water-limited lands,” the authors conclude.

CITATION: Rosa M. Rivero et al (2007). Delayed leaf senescence induces extreme drought tolerance in a flowering plant. PNAS November 27, 2007 vol. 104 no. 48

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