Gene May Help Plants be More Tolerant of Heat and Disease

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Chinese scientists discover a gene that can help crops become more tolerant of heat and disease while increasing yields.

In a thesis published in Nature Biotechnology, a team led by He Zuhua of Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that the ERECTA (ER) gene in transgenic rice and tomatoes improved heat tolerance in the greenhouse and field tests at multiple locations in China during several seasons.

The detrimental effects of global warming on crop productivity threaten to affect the world’s food supply. Although plant responses to changes in temperature have been studied, genetic modification of crops to improve thermotolerance has had varying success to date.

The overexpression of the gene can also help improve yield while making the plants more resistant to diseases, the researchers say.

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