Development Of Biosensors For Drought Stress In Plants

Tech ID: 31704 / UC Case 2019-458-0


Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a prototype biosensor that can monitor detectable levels of hormones present in plants experiencing drought or other environmental stress.

Full Description

In response to environmental stresses, plants can adjust their growth and development using phytohormones. As one example, plants facing drought synthesize a hormone called abscisic acid (ABA), which inhibits germination and induces leaf detachment and seed and bud dormancy. But currently-available technologies typically detect downstream effects of stress hormones, usually too late to prevent yield loss.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a sensor capable of monitoring plant hormone levels using protein dimers. As one example, when plants produce a detectable level of ABA, the sensor detects the binding of that hormone to the protein dimer. The sensor’s output can therefore be used to monitor the amount of hormone present in a plant. This information can be used by growers to intervene and adjust environmental factors (e.g. water, pesticides, nutrients, etc.) in response to the detected plant hormone levels well before plants show deleterious stress responses. 


  • Monitor plant hormone levels
  • Help optimize growing conditions



  • Can be used in individual plants
  • Different protein dimers can detect different target plant hormones


Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 2022021103 07/07/2022 2019-458

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Other Information


ABA, abscisic acid, phytohormones, terpenoid, biosensor, protein dimer, PYL, PYR

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