Research being conducted at the Plant Stress Research unit at the University of Cape Town is focusing on ways of genetically improving a plant’s ability to cope with drought. As discussed in a paper by Shaun Peters, University Cape Town, South Africa, scientists are using X. viscosa, a resurrection plant able to survive long periods without water, as a source of genes that code for the proteins responsible for the resurrection phenomenon.
According to the paper, X. viscosa’s ability to survive temperature extremes, high winds and lack of water is genetically coded. The scientists are focusing on how these enabling genes are expressed in X. viscosa. So far, the paper reports the scientists have identified a number of genes from the plant that may provide the key. These genes then are cloned into drought-sensitive species of other plants. Once the scientists have achieved success with these model plant experiments, they will use the results to engineer other stress-tolerant crops.
For a full text of the paper, see http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=x%2E... .