Biotech Updates

Scientists Discover Protein that Helps Plants Tolerate Drought, Flooding, and Other Stresses

August 14, 2013

A research team from Dartmouth College, University of Aberdeen, and University of Lausanne has uncovered a protein that plays an important role in how plant roots use water and nutrients, a key step in improving the production and quality of crops and biofuels.

In the study, the researchers identified a protein called ESB1, which is involved in the deposition of lignin patches during the early development of the Casparian strip and the fusion of these patches into a continuous band of lignin as the Casparian strip matures. The Casparian strip, a form of cellular barrier, helps plants to tolerate a number of stresses such as salinity, drought, and flooding.

Plants use lignin deposition in many different cell types and in response to various environmental stresses. A better understanding of lignin deposition may eventually help scientists manipulate lignin content in plants to boost crop and biofuels production.

The results of the team's research are included in this week's Early Edition of the journal PNAS available at: (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1308412110)