Biotech Updates

Purdue University Innovation to Help Crops Survive Long Drought

April 6, 2016

Researchers from Purdue University have developed a technology that could enable specific crops to survive severe drought conditions, while significantly decreasing water consumption. The technology utilizes a gene that causes the plant to have rapid leaf pore closure, a reduced rate of water loss due to evaporation, alleviated cell membrane damage and improved photosynthesis that results in an improved reaction to drought conditions.

Yang Zhao, a research assistant in horticulture, said current genetically modified drought-resistant crops are only successful in narrow environmental conditions and rely on rescue irrigation if conditions become too severe.

"If a crop is under a lot of severe stress it will become dormant, and when water is available again, even if that's after a very long time, it revives and grows again. Our method doesn't rely on irrigation to save it and farmers can be assured that they won't have to replant everything and start over if the drought is prolonged, saving a lot of time and money," said Ray Bressan, distinguished professor in Purdue's College of Agriculture. He added that they may be interested in combining their technology with the current technology being used by biotech companies in the future.

More details are available at the Purdue University Research Foundation News.