Heat is bad for plant health. Here’s how gene editing could help.

However, many related plant species are closely related to Arabidopsis, including broccoli and brussels sprouts. And because the salicylic acid pathway is present in many different plants, including staple crops like wheat, corn and potatoes, it’s possible this work could have an impact far beyond the lab.

In several follow-up experiments, the Duke team worked to repeat their results in rapeseed, a plant used to produce rapeseed oil. He says the results are promising, although this work still needs to be tested in field trials.

One hurdle in bringing GM crops into the field could be that researchers have used bacteria to introduce new DNA into the plants, which means they would be considered GMOs (genetically modified organisms). . But he says future research could use gene editing tools like CRISPR instead of introducing DNA from another organism, potentially avoiding some of the regulatory and consumer challenges associated with food. GMO products.

Other experts are quick to point out that while research may be ongoing, we still haven’t found the plant completely.

“There are more fundamental questions,” says Jian Hua, a plant biologist at Cornell University. For example, she says, it’s not clear why this immune pathway shuts down at high temperatures in the first place.

High-temperature immunodeficiency may have been an evolutionary difficulty, but there may also be some benefit to shutting down some defenses when temperatures change, Hua pointed out. Some plants have other immune responses that actually increase with increasing temperature, and it is unclear what the relative importance of these different pathways might be or how they might interact.

Rising temperatures due to climate change will affect plants in many ways beyond immunity, but if researchers can find new ways to help plants defend themselves, that could eventually be done. means less pesticide use and a more flexible global food supply.

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