Salt-tolerant gene may revolutionise farming

April 8th, 2008 - 11:50 am ICT by admin  

New York, April 8 (IANS) The secret of why a plant withers or thrives in salty condition has been found in the cellular mechanism of arabidopsis, a plant species, according to a study. The findings could have enormous implications for salt-affected croplands, which form half the world’s cultivated area. Salty soil means plants don’t grow as well and therefore yield less.

Researchers have discovered that a complex carbohydrate called N-glycan, which is linked to protein in the plant, may be responsible for its ability to contend with salt water.

N-glycan was previously thought to have no helpful function for plant growth and to cause certain allergies in humans, according to Hisashi Koiwa of Texas AgriLife and co-author of the study.

The team’s finding “significantly clarifies” the role of the gene and could lead to the development of food crops and other plants capable of producing in salty water areas.

The findings of the study have been published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The study used arabidopsis as it is a plant commonly used in labs because it grows quickly and has a relatively simple and well-known genome.

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