Biotech Updates

ISU Researchers Study Plant Stress

April 29, 2011

Yields are affected when plants get stressed. How do plants deal with stress? "We've discovered a new arm of the pathway by which plants activate a response to environmental stress," says Stephen Howell, professor of genetics, development and cell biology and former director of the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State University. Howell and his colleagues discuss this finding in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The research team found out that when a plant is under stress its cells produce poorly folded or unfolded proteins. These proteins move through an area of the cell called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Inside the ER, a built-in, quality-control system senses this and "sets off an alarm in the cell," said Howell. The next research effort will be to silence the alarm system.

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