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 Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>