Biotech Updates

Scientists Discover Plant Mechanism to Stimulate their Growth Even Under Stress

January 15, 2014

In a collaborative study led by Durham Centre for Crop Improvement Technology at Durham University, and including experts at the University of Nottingham, Rothamsted Research and the University of Warwick in England, scientists have discovered that plants have the natural ability to regulate their growth independently of gibberellin, particularly during times of environmental stress.

They found that plants produce a modifier protein, called SUMO that interacts with the growth repressing proteins. The researchers believe that by modifying the interaction between the modifier protein and the repressor proteins, they can remove the brakes from plant growth, leading to higher yields even when plants are experiencing stress. The research was carried out on thale cress, a model for plant research that occurs naturally throughout most of Europe and Central Asia, but the scientists say the mechanism they have found also exists in crops such as barley, corn, rice, and wheat.

For more information, see Durham University's news release at