Penn State researchers working to make jatropha drought resistant

July 16, 2013 |

In Pennsylvania, researchers led by Penn State are working to identify genes to help jatropha be more drought resistant. Researchers looked at a little known gene — JcPIP1 — because a similar gene in the model plant Arabidopsis is known to play a role in drought response. They also examined JcPIP2, a potential drought response gene in Jatropha identified in 2007 by researchers at Sichuan University.

The JcPIP genes code for membrane channels called aquaporins, which are responsible for transporting and balancing water throughout the plant, though exactly how each gene affects aquaporin behavior under environmental stress remains unclear. However, researchers have found that JcPIP1 and JcPIP2 are expressed at different times during a stressful situation, which hints at what roles they play in response and recovery.

Analysis of plant parts during the stress and recovery stages showed that JcPIP2 was mostly active in the early stages of stress while JcPIP1 expression was greater during recovery. The timing indicates that JcPIP1 may be crucial in helping Jatropha recover from damage while JcPIP2 may play a role in prevention. How the two genes affect other plant functions remains unknown, and how large a part they play in the entire network of drought resistance relies on further study.

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Category: Research

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