Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gene may produce drought-resistant plants

22.05.2003


The identification and duplication of a gene that controls production of plants’ outermost protective coating may allow Purdue University researchers to create crops with increased drought resistance.


Research conducted at Purdue University by Matt Jenks with Arabidopsis plants may lead to the development of more drought-resistant plants. Jenks is an assistant professor of horticulture. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)



Scientists cloned the gene WAX2 after they discovered a fast-wilting mutant of Arabidopsis, a commonly used experimental plant. The gene is directly associated with the synthesis of the protective layer of plants, called the cuticle, and its contained waxes, according to the study published in the May issue of The Plant Cell.

The difference in the mutant Arabidopsis when compared to a wild-type, or normal, plant is the plants’ ability to retain water. This is apparently because the mutation, called wax2, has a different cuticle structure than found in a plant that has the normal gene, WAX2.


"If we can alter the expression of the WAX2 gene, we might be able to produce a cuticle that is thicker or more rigid so that it’s less permeable to water loss," said Matt Jenks, associate professor of horticulture and landscape architecture.

Manipulating what the gene does or when it is turned on could result in plants better able to survive in arid conditions.

Jenks and his research team isolated more than 20 mutant Arabidopsis plants that showed alterations in the amount of wax they produced. Of these, only a few lost water more quickly than the wild type.

"The mutant wax2 was the most drought susceptible," Jenks said. "Unlike previously described wax mutants, removal of the WAX2 gene product causes dramatic alteration in the cuticle membrane, and the plant no longer is able to prevent water loss."

Jenks said he believes that when the cuticle membrane structure is changed because of the wax2 malfunction of the WAX2 gene, the protective wax within the cuticle membrane is displaced, affecting transpiration. Transpiration is how plants emit waste matter though their leaf surfaces.

"It’s likely that the cuticle meshwork is disrupted so the wax molecules no longer stack properly within the cuticle," he said. "The plant becomes very permeable to water and overall is less able to withstand drought conditions."

The study using the mutant wax2 also revealed unique interactions between the cuticle and other aspects of plant development.

The researchers found that the wax2 mutant has fewer stomata, the small holes in the plant’s surface that regulate water loss. This mutant also has a male sterility problem that prevents pollen from activating the stigma, where reproduction begins.

"The cloning of WAX2 is providing evidence that lipids in the cuticle may serve as signals that control how plants develop," Jenks said. "Lipids in animals are known to play important roles in regulating development, but lipid signaling in plants is not well understood."

Lipids are water-insoluble molecules that aid in various cell metabolic functions.

"We want to understand the genetics and biochemistry of plant cuticle production so that ultimately we may be able to modify economically important crops to grow better during drought" he said.

The other authors of the study are postdoctoral student Xinbo Chen, visiting professor Xionglun Liu, and graduate students S. Mark Goodwin and Virginia Boroff, all of the Purdue Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative and Purdue University provided support for the research.

Writer: Susan A. Steeves, (765) 496-7481, ssteeves@aes.purdue.edu

Source: Matthew Jenks, (765) 494-1332, jenks@hort.purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu;

Susan A. Steeves | Purdue News
Further information:
http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/030521.Jenks.wax2.html
http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>