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Crop Biotech Update

Genetic Mechanism Protects Plants from Zinc

June 4, 2014

Researchers from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) in Portugal have discovered a novel genetic mechanism protecting plants from toxic zinc levels. The researchers, led by Paula Duque, found that the ZIF2 gene produces a protein that transports zinc ions into the vacuole of root cells, and prevents its distribution to other plant organs.

To find out if the ZIF2 protein was protecting the plant against toxic levels of zinc, plants either lacking ZIF2 or containing increased levels of the protein were gathered. The researchers observed that, when there is high levels of zinc, plants without ZIF2 were less tolerant to the metal; their roots grew shorter, chlorophyll production was impaired, and ultimately, the plant's biomass was reduced. The plants expressing more ZIF2 protein, however, were able to cope better with high levels of zinc; roots grew longer, and more chlorophyll and biomass were produced. These results established that ZIF2 was important for plants to handle toxic zinc levels.

For more, read the IGC news article at