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Ben-Gurion U. Researchers Develop Techniques To Manipulate Plant Adaption In Arid Climates

February 15, 2011

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers have developed techniques to manipulate root development functionality that can help plants better adapt to hostile growing environments.

In a recent paper published in the prestigious journal The Plant Cell, BGU researchers were able show that by manipulating a specific gene they could impact lateral root growth. Lateral root (LR) development is a highly regulated process that determines a plant’s growth and ability to adapt to life in different environmental conditions.

The researchers identified ABI4, a master-gene that controls LR development, then mutated the gene and constructed transgenic plants in which this gene is over-expressed. They demonstrated that the ABI4 gene functions at a central junction that determines the accumulation of signals from three different plant hormones. The balance and manipulation of these signals, achieved via ABI4, regulates root structure development.

According to the research conducted by BGU student Doron Shkolnik-Inbar and Prof. Dudy Bar-Zvi in BGU’s Department of Life Sciences, “the revolutionary research will allow control and manipulation of the level of root branching, enabling plants to adapt to arid soils or high salinity.”

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