Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Look at Reducing Yield Loss for Crops Under Stress

March 31, 2010

Plants under extreme environmental stress such as salt, extreme temperatures and drought respond differently. Scientists reported in the March issue of Plant Cell reveal the many stress response mechanisms and pathways in Arabidopsis. Professor of Genetics Stephen Howell and postdoctoral researcher Jian-Xiang Liu found the presence of special molecular indicators inside the cell and how they respond to stress. The sensors pick up cues on the presence of misfolded proteins.

"Correct folding is very important to the function of a protein. Incorrectly folded proteins or unfolded proteins will malfunction," says Howell. Under conditions of stress, unfolded proteins accumulate which send signals to the cell nucleus to release molecular-associated transcription factors that would help in the protein-unfolding process. The research indicated the presence of two sets of transcription factors; one that deal with addressing salt stress and another on heat stress and the accumulation of unfolded proteins.

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