Methods for Enhancing Crop Production and Survival

Technology #11400

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Researchers
Balasubrama Rathinasabapathi
Walid M. Fouad
Managed By
John Byatt
Assistant Director 352-392-8929

Maximizes Profit From Crop Production Using an Environmentally Friendly Bacterial Gene

This technique genetically enhances tolerance to environmental stress and crop yield. Adverse environmental conditions, such as drought and extreme temperatures, effectively limit agricultural productivity in many regions of the world. Researchers at the University of Florida have discovered a bacterial gene that, when expressed in plants, improves stress tolerance and also increases growth rate under non-stressed conditions.

Applications

Genetically enhanced tolerance to heat stress and increased crop yield

Advantages

  • Increases crop biomass and productivity, maximizing yield and profits
  • Enhances crop resistance to environmental stress factors, expanding the range over which certain crops can be economically cultivated
  • Environmentally sound solution to improving crop productivity in first-world and developing countries

Technology

University of Florida researchers have transformed plants with the panD gene from E. coli that encodes L-aspartate-decarboxylase. Plants expressing this gene have elevated levels of the non-protein amino acid, b-alanine which has been demonstrated to improve tolerance to heat stress. The reaction catalyzed by aspartate decarboxylase also generates carbon dioxide. It is likely that the higher concentration of CO2 in the leaves improves photosynthetic efficiency which results in the higher growth rates observed in plants expressing the panD gene. Furthermore, metabolic engineering of plants with elevated levels of b-alanine is an important first step toward generating plants capable of accumulating b-alanine betaine, which is an osmoprotectant and will improve drought resistance and salt tolerance.