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Scientists Develop Compound for Improving Drought Tolerance of Crops
Friday, 2013/07/05 | 08:20:56

An international research team led by plant biologist Sean Cutler at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), has found a new drought-protecting compound that could become a powerful crop protection tool. Named "quinabactin" by the researchers, the compound was found to mimic abscisic acid (ABA), a naturally occurring stress hormone that helps plants cope with drought conditions.


Cutler and his team experimented on Arabidopsis, working on the plant's stomata which close firmly to limit water loss during drought. This process is controlled by ABA. The research team worked to identify inexpensive synthetic chemicals that will activate the receptors by mimicking ABA, and found a molecule they named quinabactin. According to the team, quinabactin is indistinguishable from ABA in its effects, but it is much simpler chemically, and easier to make than ABA.


Cutler said, "If you can control the receptors the way ABA does, then you have a way to control water loss and drought tolerance." His team, including researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin and University of Toronto, Canada, also learned more about the underlying control logic of the stress response system and provided new information that others can use to develop similar molecules. 


For more details about this research, read the UCR news release available at: http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/16076.

Water was withheld from the Soybean plants shown here for 14 days during which the plants were treated with either a control (left) or quinabactin (right). The treated plants do not wilt as rapidly due to the action of the new compound. Photo credit: Cutler Lab, UC Riverside.

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