Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Drought response identified in potential biofuel plant

16.07.2013
Drought resistance is the key to large-scale production of Jatropha, a potential biofuel plant -- and an international group of scientists has identified the first step toward engineering a hardier variety.

Jatropha has seeds with high oil content. But the oil's potential as a biofuel is limited because, for large-scale production, this shrub-like plant needs the same amount of care and resources as crop plants.

"It is thought that Jatropha's future lies in further improvement of Jatropha for large-scale production on marginal, non-food croplands through breeding and/or biotechnology," said John E. Carlson, professor of molecular genetics at Penn State. "The more that is known about the genetic basis of Jatropha's key attributes such as drought tolerance, the more readily Jatropha improvement will progress."

According to Carlson, Jatropha currently grows best in tropical countries and is already being cultivated as a biofuel on a small scale in India, Southeast Asia and Africa. Breeding a strain that could do well in arid, barren conditions could enable mass cultivation, but large-scale production may still be decades away.

Researchers looked at a little known gene -- JcPIP1 -- because a similar gene in the model plant Arabidopsis is known to play a role in drought response. They also examined JcPIP2, a potential drought response gene in Jatropha identified in 2007 by researchers at Sichuan University. They reported their findings today (July 15) in the Journal of Plant Physiology.

The JcPIP genes code for membrane channels called aquaporins, which are responsible for transporting and balancing water throughout the plant, though exactly how each gene affects aquaporin behavior under environmental stress remains unclear. However, researchers have found that JcPIP1 and JcPIP2 are expressed at different times during a stressful situation, which hints at what roles they play in response and recovery.

By growing unmodified Jatropha samples in conditions simulating high soil salinity and low water availability, the researchers showed that Jatropha was normally more vulnerable and slower to recover from high salinity than from drought conditions.

Using a tobacco mosaic virus to transiently transform Jatropha, the researchers created plants in which JcPIP2 or JcPIP1 was temporarily disabled. They subjected the modified samples to six days of stress and six days of recovery. To gauge the plants' stress responses, they noted physical changes and measured root damage, leaf growth, electrolyte leakage in the leaves, and sap flow and volume.

The researchers found that these stress responses were about the same between the two variants under drought conditions. However, plants with JcPIP1 disabled were slower to recover from salt damage.

Analysis of plant parts during the stress and recovery stages showed that JcPIP2 was mostly active in the early stages of stress while JcPIP1 expression was greater during recovery. The timing indicates that JcPIP1 may be crucial in helping Jatropha recover from damage while JcPIP2 may play a role in prevention.

How the two genes affect other plant functions remains unknown, and how large a part they play in the entire network of drought resistance relies on further study.

"Plants have complex genetic and biochemical pathways for environmental stress resistance, that includes (multiple) genes and pathways," said Carlson. "This inherent redundancy in stress responses ensures survival under varying environmental conditions, and provides many possible approaches to improving resistance."

According to the research team, the next step is to find how the JcPIP genes work at the cellular level, which can provide more detailed profiles of each gene's exact function.

Other researchers on this project include lead investigator Sung Ju Ahn and Ha-Young Jangat, Chonnam National University, Korea; Seong-Wook Yang, associate professor of plant biology and biotechnology, University of Copenhagen; and Yang-Gyu Ku, Wonkwang University, Korea.

The Korea Rural Development Agency, National Research Foundation of Korea and the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology funded this study.

A'ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Researchers discover natural product that could lead to new class of commercial herbicide
16.07.2018 | UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

nachricht Advance warning system via cell phone app: Avoiding extreme weather damage in agriculture
12.07.2018 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF) e.V.

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>