Crop Biotech Update

GE Wheat with AlSAP Gene Exhibits Strong Tolerance to Salinity and Drought

October 14, 2011

Scientist Rania Ben-Saad from the University of Sfax, Tunisia, and team, discovered and isolated a stress-associated gene labeled as AISAP from Aeluropus littoralis, a salt-loving grass. When this gene was expressed in transgenic tobacco, tolerance to salt and drought stress was observed. The same team further examined if the gene could be used to produce salt and drought tolerant durum wheat plant (cultivar Karim). Thus, they introduced the gene into wheat plants without the use of markers and confirmed the transformation by Southern, Northern, and Western blotting.

The transgenic wheat plants exhibited enhanced germination rates and biomass production when exposed to salt and drought stresses compared with the non-GM counterparts, which were either dead or produced reduced grain filling. The transgenic plants also showed lower water loss rate and higher sodium ion accumulation in the mature parts of the plants. With these results, it is evident that AISAP is a potential gene for developing other crops with drought and salt tolerance.

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