Biotech Updates

German Researchers Use Optogenetics to Activate Plant Cell Activities

February 24, 2021

Researchers from University of Würzburg successfully applied optogenetics in Tobacco plants. 

Researchers from the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg (JMU) have successfully applied optogenetics in tobacco plants to create a ‘switch' to control the plant's cell activities.

The researchers used genetic engineering in producing vitamin A and optimizing rhodopsin production simultaneously in tobacco plants by introducing an enzyme from a marine bacterium. Vitamin A activates the light-controlled cation channel, channelrhodopsin-2, which can only be switched on or off by light. Vitamin A paired with rhodopsin allows the researchers to manipulate the growth of pollen tubes and the development of leaves using green light.

Optogenetics is a method first used to control the electrical activity of cells in humans and animals. The study was the first time optogenetics was successfully used in plants. The study also allows further examination of a more detailed process of molecular mechanisms of plant growth which could help analyze more signaling pathways of plants.

For more details, read the article in Nature.

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