Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
AgriGenomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Cornell Research Helps Meet World's Crop Challenges

Published: Thursday, May 02, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, May 02, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Two Cornell researchers are world experts in studies of little-known plant transport proteins that may be key to easing ever-growing global food needs.

Leon Kochian and Maria Harrison are two of the 12 plant biologists who have authored a perspectives piece in the May 2 issue of Nature. The article explores how newly discovered plant transport proteins have the potential to help expand global agriculture to better address the challenges of feeding billions of underfed people.

Plant transport proteins carry mineral nutrients and key molecules across cell membranes, which are key targets for developing plants that take up nutrients, transport sugar and are tolerant to salt and aluminum.

For example, Kochian, Cornell adjunct professor of plant biology and director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health at Cornell, has identified a transport protein gene that may be responsible for making such crops as sorghum tolerant to aluminum toxicity in soils, which makes 50 percent of the world’s arable lands unusable for agriculture.

“It’s a big problem,” said Kochian, of aluminum toxicity that stems from acidic soils. “Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, but in acidic soils, it gets dissolved as aluminum ions that are very toxic to roots,” he said.

The plant’s roots grow from the tip, and it is this part that needs protection from aluminum ions. Kochian and colleagues have identified a transporter in the plasma membrane of root cells that transports citric acid out of the roots where it binds with aluminum ions in the soil and renders them nontoxic to the plants.

The gene that Kochian and colleagues have discovered appears to control transport of organic compounds, such as citric acid, out of the cell.

“We have funding from international agencies to identify molecular markers for the best alleles [versions] of our aluminum tolerance genes,” said Kochian. By identifying the markers that are in or very close to an aluminum tolerance gene, plant breeders will use molecular breeding techniques to identify whether a breeding line contains the desired gene; this would greatly accelerate the process of breeding new varieties.

Similarly, Maria Harrison, the William H. Crocker Professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research on Cornell’s Ithaca campus, has discovered transporters in plants that enable them acquire phosphorus, a nutrient vital for plant growth and yield. Lack of phosphorus in forms accessible to plants limits crop production on close to 70 percent of the world’s agricultural soils. As a result, farmers add fertilizers produced with nonrenewable rock phosphate, reserves of which will be depleted within perhaps 70 years.

While researchers have shown that transporters allow plants to acquire phosphorous from soil directly, Harrison has also studied transporters that work during a symbiotic relationship between plants and soil fungi, called mycorrhizae.  Fungi living in symbiotic compartments in roots capture phosphate from the soil and make these ions accessible for plant phosphate transporters to deliver into root cells. Harrison’s work will help breeders develop plants that can acquire phosphate more efficiently from the soil.

Lead author Julian Schroeder, professor of biology at University of California-San Diego, believes these discoveries require more attention and funding to meet the world’s future food challenges.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Pathogen Takes Control of Gypsy Moth Populations
A new fungal pathogen is killing gypsy moth caterpillars and crowding out communities of pathogens and parasites that previously destroyed these moth pests.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
$4.8M USAID Grant to Improve Food Security
To strengthen capacity to develop and disseminate genetically engineered eggplant in Bangladesh and the Philippines, the USAID has awarded Cornell a $4.8 million, three-year cooperative grant.
Friday, April 01, 2016
$5.5M NSF Grant Aims to Improve Rice Crops with Genome Editing
Researchers to precisely target, cut, remove and replace DNA in a living cell to improve rice.
Friday, May 08, 2015
Genetics Used to Improve Plants for Bioenergy
An upcoming genetics investigation into the symbiotic association between soil fungi and feedstock plants for bioenergy production could lead to more efficient uptake of nutrients, which would help limit the need for expensive and polluting fertilizers.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Pest Attacks Can Lead to Bigger Crop Yields
New project receive three-year funding of $498,000 from USDA.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Algal Genes May Boost Efficiency, Yield in Staple Crops
New research has taken a step toward employing genes from blue-green algae to improve staple crop photosynthesis.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Study to Focus on Rice Genes, Yield and Climate
Cornell researchers received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study relationships among rice genetics, crop yields and climate.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
New Alfalfa Variety Resists Ravenous Local Pest
The new variety has some resistance against the alfalfa snout beetle which has ravaged alfalfa fields.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Predators Delay Pest Resistance to Bt Crops
Crops genetically modified with the bacterium Bt(Bacillus thuringiensis) produce proteins that kill pest insects.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Shark, Human Proteins are Surprisingly Similar
Despite widespread fascination with sharks, the world’s oldest ocean predators have long been a genetic mystery.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Surprises Discovered in Decoded Kiwifruit Genome
DNA sequence of the kiwifruit has many genetic similarities between its 39,040 genes and other plant species, including potatoes and tomatoes.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Produce Perfect: Biotech Sweet Corn goes Unblemished
With the kernel-loving earworm, producing unblemished ears of sweet corn is difficult.
Monday, October 14, 2013
New Micro Water Sensor Can Aid Growers
Crop growers, wine grape and other fruit growers, food processors and even concrete makers all benefit from water sensors for accurate, steady and numerous moisture readings.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Partnership Homes in on Regenerative Medicine
Scientists are to advance healing techniques and technologies for animals and humans.
Friday, October 04, 2013
Using Genes to Rescue Animal and Plants from Extinction
With estimates of losing 15 to 40 percent of the world’s species over the next four decades researchers whether science should employ genetic engineering to the rescue.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Scientific News
Flowering Regulation Mechanism Discovered
Monash researchers have discovered a new mechanism that enables plants to regulate their flowering in response to raised temperatures.
Nanoparticles Present Sustainable Way to Grow Food Crops
Nanoparticle technology can help reduce the need for fertilizer, creating a more sustainable way to grow crops such as mung beans.
Analysis of Dog Genome will Provide Insight into Human Disease
An important model in studying human disease, the non-coding RNA of the canine genome is an essential starting point for evolutionary and biomedical studies – according to a new study led by The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC).
Pathogen Takes Control of Gypsy Moth Populations
A new fungal pathogen is killing gypsy moth caterpillars and crowding out communities of pathogens and parasites that previously destroyed these moth pests.
Super Wheat Brought Closer to Reality
Scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC) and The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) have pioneered a new gene-detecting technology which, if deployed correctly could lead to the creation of a new elite variety of wheat with durable resistance to disease.
Mechanism Behind Plant Withering Clarified
Reproducing the reaction in which harmful reactive oxygen species are created during plant photosynthesis allows researchers to confirm the mechanism behind plant withering.
Sequencing the Salmon Genome
Researchers have established a “human” quality sequence of the Atlantic salmon genome that is now available online.
Improved Path to Cassava Production
Researchers have studied the genetic diversity of cassava, highlighting strategies to improve breeding programmes.
New Online Tool Helps Predict Gene Expression in Plants
Scientists at The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) and The John Innes Centre have developed a free online tool that will help a global community of scientists understand more about important food crops.
Rare DNA Transfer Between Animals, Plants
Scientists identify rare DNA transfer between conifers and insects.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!