Crop Biotech Update

Iowa State University Researchers Identify Genetic Mechanisms that Govern Plant Growth and Drought Response

March 1, 2017

Iowa State University researchers led by scientist Yanhai Yin have identified a genetic mechanism that governs growth and drought tolerance in plants. According to Yin, plant biological processes overseeing growth and drought response often clash with one another. Scientists have long observed the tendency of plants to slow their growth in times of drought to conserve energy and fight stress, but the genetic mechanisms that guide those interactions were poorly understood.

The study indicates that these interactions depend on a pair of genes known as BES1 and RD26. BES1 controls plant growth and is activated by the hormone brassinosteroid. BES1 also influences thousands of the other genes, making it "an important switch" in the overall functioning of a plant. RD26 is activated when plants are under drought stress. The BES1 and RD26 pathways often inhibit each other, according to the study. Yin said that it will take further studies to fully untangle how the two pathways interact.

For more details, read the article from the Iowa State University News Service.