Crop Biotech Update

Experts Boost Plant Immunity to Face Warming Temperatures

July 20, 2022

Researchers from Duke University and Howard Hughes Media Institute found the gene linked to plants' temperature sensitivity and devised a way to fix the plant's immune system at higher temperatures. The open-access article about the study is published in Nature.

The research team identified the gene CBP60g, which codes a protein controlling how other genes involved in the salicylic acid pathway are expressed. Salicylic acid has antibacterial properties and also acts as an indicator for other immune pathways to get going. However, during extremely hot conditions, the salicylic pathway shuts down. The researchers turned up the salicylic production at all times, even at high temperatures. Furthermore, they also made the plants produce defense chemicals only in the presence of a pathogen to ensure that the plants' growth and development are not hampered by making unimportant defense chemicals.

The study, which was done with Arabidopsis, will be tested in rapeseed plants. One of the authors also said that future research could use gene editing tools like CRISPR to avoid regulatory and consumer challenges associated with using genetically modified organisms.

Know more details from MIT Technology Review and Nature.

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