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Plant Signals Regulating Cell Death And Detoxification

In plants, cellular damage results in the enzymatic and nonenzymatic peroxidation of fatty acids (FAs) termed “oxylipins.” Specific oxylipins function as direct antimicrobial defenses and plant signaling molecules that regulate diverse processes including development, reproduction, stress acclimation, and innate immune responses against pests and pathogens. Enzymatic biosynthesis can be initiated by lipase-based cleavage of linoleic acid (18:2) or α-linolenic acid (18:3) from membrane lipids and subsequent dioxygenation by lipoxygenases (LOXs) with regiospecificity at carbons 9 or 13. The most studied 13-LOX 18:3-derived plant oxylipins are 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (12-OPDA) and jasmonic acid (JA). In plants, 12-OPDA and JA (termed jasmonates) are key oxidation products that regulate diverse processes in development and innate immunity.

Isolation Of A Gene That Regulates The Strength Of Abscisic Acid Signal Transduction

As climate change has an increasingly greater impact on the environment, some regions are likely to get wetter while other regions are going to get drier. Therefore there is need to identify new ways to render agricultural plants more drought tolerant and effective in limiting transpirational water loss. The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) regulates a plant’s many important responses to stress. In seeds, ABA is responsible for the accumulation of nutritive reserves, tolerance for desiccation, maturation and dormancy.During vegetative growth, ABA is central in triggering plant responses to drought, salt stress and cold.A rapid response to drought that is mediated by ABA is stomatal closure.Stomata on the leaf surface are formed by pairs of guard cells whose turgor regulates stomatal pore apertures. ABA induces stomatal closure by triggering cytosolic calcium increases, which regulate ion channels in guard cells. Therefore modulating ABA activity in plants can be used to confer drought tolerance on plants.

Drug-Like Compounds That Enhance Plant Immunity And Growth

Background: Due to the rapidly increasing demand of food production, agricultural biotechnology companies are aiming to improve crop productivity. Biotechnology tools that develop novel plant traits are projected to have a $1.3B global market with annual growth of 49.9% by 2019.  Brief Description: UCR Researchers have developed a drug-like compound, HTC, that is structurally distinct from other agrochemicals and will rapidly induce an immune response in plants to ward off pathogens. Only a small dose of this novel compound is needed for optimal protection as well as growth enhancement. By genetically engineering the plant to have a stronger inherent immune system, toxic chemicals like pesticides are no longer needed to protect the plant. Its implementation can render decreased usage of agrochemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment.

Non-Transgenic Haploid Plant Induction Lines

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have identified non-transgenic mutant plants capable of generating haploid offspring.

Redirect Subcellular Lipid Droplet To Storage Or Excretion

Background: Biodiesel is a renewable and biodegradable fuel that minimizes pollution. The global biofuel market is forecasted to reach $24B with an estimated annual growth rate of 50% in the next 5 years. Therefore, current methods to retrieve biodiesel must be enhanced in order to meet high consumer and commercial demands. Brief Description: UCR researchers have developed a method to optimize biodiesel synthesis in plants by redirecting cytosolic lipid droplets (LDs) to the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum and then into protein storage vacuoles (PSVs). They successfully identified and modified a specific protein involved in directing lipids to various areas within the cell. Through restructuring and adding novel peptides, researchers were then able to re-route the fate of lipids into vacuoles for accumulation as well as elimination of metabolic feedback inhibition.

The Exocyst As A Novel Drug Target Of Endosidin2 And Application As A Therapeutic

Background: Cancer progression and Diabetes are a few of the diseases that are related to the dysfunction of the exocyst complex, a protein complex that plays a vital part in exocytosis. EXO70, a protein in the exocyst complex, is directly involved in the development of diabetes and cancer, and has been shown to be a target for  therapeutics directed at these diseases. Description: The researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a small drug-like molecule that targets the EXO70 protein in both plant and mammalian cell lines. This discovery provides new insights into the novel features of the exocyst complex and also offers a new target for drugs aimed at human diseases.

Controlling Stomatal Apertures, Water Transpiration and Water Use Efficiency in Plants

Plants exchange carbon dioxide and water through stomatal pores located in the epidermis of leaves and stems. Carbon dioxide is taken up for photosynthesis and water is lost through transpiration through the stomatal pore. The stomatal pore is made up of specialized cells called guard cells that balance the plants need for carbon dioxide uptake and water loss by opening and closing of the pores in response to environmental conditions. Stomata open in response to low levels of carbon dioxide and will close when the levels are high. Knowledge of how atmospheric CO2 is perceived by the guard cells could be used to manipulate plant CO2 responses so that the carbon and water use efficiency during plant growth could be optimized.

Non-Dormant Alfalfa Line 2525-14 Having A High Transformation Efficiency

Researchers at UC Davis have produced a non-dormant alfalfa line highly amenable to transformation, allowing direct improvement of the line. Higher transformation efficiency and a non-dormant life-cycle make this line of alfalfa a valuable tool for research and breeding.

Novel Diagnostic Methods for Citrus Stubborn Disease

Background: In the US alone, the citrus industry generates billions of dollars annually from sales of fresh fruits and juices. The presence of California stubborn disease (CSD) in arid environments, such as California, Arizona, and Mediterranean regions, has affected many of the major commercial citrus species. CSD, caused by the pathogen Spiroplasma citri, creates significant tree damage and loss of fruit production and quality. Diagnosing this disease is challenging and there are no practical cures. To ensure clean source trees for the industry, new and rapid diagnostic methods to detect CSD and similar diseases are urgently needed. Description: UCR researchers have developed a novel diagnostic method for detecting CSD. This method is able to detect the presence of a protein secreted from S. Citri that can be used as a marker for CSD. This invention opens the door for pathogen-secreted proteins to be used as indicators of other citrus bacterial diseases, such as HLB.

Novel Multiplex Assay Detects Citrus Pathogens

Background: In the US alone, the citrus industry generates billions of dollars annually from sales of fresh fruits and juices. The susceptibility of citrus to diseases, such as HLB, witches’ broom, CVC, and citrus stubborn disease, can significantly deplete citrus product sales throughout the US and internationally.   Description: UCR researchers have developed a new molecular approach for citrus disease diagnosis. This method combines Quantigene Plex technology with a multiple bead assay system to enable detection of numerous pathogens at once. It provides an accurate, efficient, and quick method for detection and is also suitable for high throughput screenings. 

'FairchildLS' Mandarin

Background: Over the years, the world renowned Citrus Experiment Station became the foundation of  the UC Riverside campus, where citrus breeding and agricultural research remain at the forefront.  UCR’s premier citrus breeding program varieties are  licensed worldwide, and some have been considered by professional taste panels to be one of the best flavored citrus in the world. Description: ‘FairchildLS,’  a mandarin developed by mutation breeding, is  seedless or low-seeded in all situations of cross-pollination. It has a moderately smooth texture and a sweet, rich fruit flavor. Easy to peel and with a deep orange color, the ‘FairchildLS’ is an attractive citrus that is popular and sought-out by the citrus industry. 

'Gold Nugget' Mandarin

Background: Over the years, the world renowned Citrus Experiment Station became the foundation of  the UC Riverside campus, where citrus breeding and agricultural research remain at the forefront.  UCR’s premier citrus breeding program varieties are  licensed worldwide, and have been considered by professional taste panels to be one of the best flavored citrus in the world. Description: UCRs ‘Gold Nugget’ is a mandarin hybrid that has deep orange colored flesh, extremely fine texture, and is low-seeded in all situations of cross pollination. ‘Gold Nugget’ has outstanding storage characteristics on its trees and may be fruitful in a late-season marketing window. Very few currently available mandarins combine this set of characteristics. 

Small RNAs From Fungal Pathogens Suppress Plant's Immunity

Background:  Botrytis cinerea, the causative agent of grey mold disease, is a fungal pathogen that infects more than 200 plant species. In the inveterate “arms race” between plant and pathogen, pathogens have evolved effector proteins to counteract the immune responses of host plants. Description: Researchers at UCR have discovered that small RNAs from fungal pathogens act as effector molecules to suppress host immunity. Novel evidence has shown that certain small RNAs produced by B. cinerea, silence host genes and facilitate infection by sabotaging the host plant’s immune system. 

Novel Compounds Modulating Ethylene in Plants

Background: Many plant growers wish to control or speed the process of the plant growth in order to benefit the needs of plant buyers and exporters. A way to do this is inducing Ethylene, a natural plant hormone that expedites the ripening process. Description: UCR researchers have developed methods and compounds to control ethylene responses in plants. These compounds provide the possibility of inducing ethylene response in a plant that has absence of significant ethylene or one that is not responsive of ethylene. They can be incorporated into daily  treatments given to plants.   

Novel peptide capable of stimulating disease resistance in plants

UC Davis researchers have discovered raxX, a novel peptide that activates the Xa21 immune response pathway, capable of conferring robust disease resistance, and methods for its use. Application of the peptide activates the plant immune responses and eliminating bacterial infection. Engineering plants to express both raxX and Xa21 under an inducible control is expected to lead to robust resistance in diverse plant species.

A Genomic Scale Artificial Micro RNA Library as a Tool to Investigate the Functionally Redundant Gene Space tn Arabidopsis Thaliana

Traditional forward genetic screens are limited in the identification of homologous genes with overlapping functions. Screening methods based on artificial micro RNAs (amiRNAs) harbor the potential to overcome genetic redundancy by specifically reducing expression and ultimately function of multiple homologous genes.

Methods for Selecting Plants After Genome Editing

Researchers at UC Davis have discovered methods of selecting plants with targeted genome edits without resorting to tissue culture or selectable transgenes. The resulting method is a non-transgenic approach that avoids the off-target background mutations generated by selection in tissue culture.

Novel Methods and Compositions for Epigenetic Gene Silencing in Plants

Dr. Steve Jacobsen and colleagues in UCLA’s Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have developed novel methods and compositions for targeted genetic repression in plants. The technology has broad agricultural applications.    

Improved Xylan Extraction

Brief description not available

Improving Plant Stress Tolerance through Chloroplast Stability Control

Chloroplast vesiculation can be down-regulated to increase plant tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress. Conversely, up-regulation of the same process enhances nutrient assimilation in young tuber, seed, root and fruit tissue. The resulting invention allows the creation of plants having greater stress tolerance, or higher nutritional content, or both.

A Genetically Engineered Biosensor to Visualize Osmotic Stress in Plants

To optimize plant growth it is necessary to ensure proper nutrient uptake as well as monitor osmotic stress such as drought, temperature stress, and salinity. Current methods of detecting plant osmotic stress include visual assessment, sample testing, aerial imagery and radiometry. While visual assessment lacks the accuracy and resolution afforded by other methods, aerial imagery may be costlier; sample testing offers better accuracy and resolution but can be more labor- and cost-intensive. Radiometry strikes a better balance between volume and resolution, but its readings are sensitive to sunlight intensity, sun angle, cloud cover and interaction of sun angle with plant geometry; it needs to correct for these variations by taking the intensity of incoming light as well as the light reflected from the crop into account. Therefore there is a need for a different method that can improve the accuracy of the measurement of osmotic stress

Gene for Promoting Parthenocarpy, Fertilization and Fruit Size

In seeded plants, successful fruit set and development are dependent on pollination, which can be highly sensitive to environmental conditions. Generating fruit without a requirement for physical pollination (parthenocarpy) allows extensive improvements in fruit crop productivity and yield. Presently, it is known that adding gibberellic acid (GA) or auxin promotes parthenocarpy as well as eventual fruit size. However, this mode of intervention requires physical treatment of fruit crops with these chemicals and the mechanisms through which these hormones promote fruit development remains unknown. Creation of fruit bearing plants capable of undergoing parthenocarpy without a requirement for exogenous treatment with plant hormones would allow fruit growers to produce seedless varieties without the limitations of pollination or spraying crops with plant hormones. Alternatively, some varieties of citrus fruits are naturally seedless and can develop without pollination. Pollination in this case can be an impediment to production of the desired fruit and in this case generating plants less susceptible to pollination would be advantageous.

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