Crop Biotech Update

Tobacco Traded its Immunity to Survive Harsh Environments

November 11, 2015

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers reported that ancient Australian native tobacco plant (Nicotiana benthamiana) compromised its immune system  for an early growth spurt to sustain life amidst dry environments. The findings are published in Nature Plants.

Known as Pitjuri to indigenous aborigines, tobacco seeds were sent by Australian scientists to American scientists. Since then, it has been passed on from lab to lab for study. The recent study's researchers compared the DNA sequences of different Pitjuri plants and discovered a mutation in the Rdr1 gene, which led to its survival in harsh conditions of central Australia. The seed size was also doubled, which gave the scientists an idea that the seeds could be used as biofactory of antibodies for pharmaceutical use.

Read more from Asian Scientist.