The devastating impact of increasing temperature upon food crops productivity has lead to a new discovery by a group of researchers from University California Riverside. Through genetic modification of tomato, they have found a way to activate water conserving processes in response to agrochemical already in use.
The drought tolerant plant developed by the team utilizes the activation of engineered abscisic acid receptor PYRABACTIN RESISTANCE 1 (PYR1) by an agrochemical widely used in agricultural which is known as mandipropamid . While it is true that crops could be sprayed with Abscisic acid (ABA) to assist their survival during drought, ABA is costly to manufacture. Although currently there are some researchers working on developing synthetic ABA to modulate drought tolerance, the development processes are expected to be lengthy and costly.
Photo 1: Comparison Between Transgenic Arabidopsis (Right) and Non-transgenic (left) after 12 Days of Experiment Under Drought Condition (Source: Sang-Youl 2015)
The engineered (PYR1) receptor enables mandipropamid to act as a substitute for ABA. Thus, enables the control of water consumption by plant. In their research, the team experimented upon two different species of plant which is tomato and Arabidopsis, a type of flowering plant widely used by scientist for the research purpose. The outcome of their experiment shows that the transgenic tomato and Arabidopsis were able to lasts 2 days longer in response to mandipropamid under the artificial drought condition as compared to that of non-transgenic plants utilizing abscisic acid. In short, their study shows that the transpiration rate of these transgenic plants can be control using cheaper agrochemical which makes them tolerant to drought condition.