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Browse Category: Agriculture & Animal Science > Plant Traits


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Efficient Induction of Haploid Plants

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed an efficient technique for the haploid induction of plants.

Kinnowls Mandarin

Background: California is one of the largest citrus producers in the world, and the demand for fresh citrus fruit that is seedless or low-seeded is on the rise. ‘Kinnow’ is the currently popular mandarin cultivar that covers 80% of all citrus trees in the Middle Eastern regions. Despite its fecundity in this region, it is very seedy and contains about 15-30 seeds per fruit. Therefore, there is high demand for mandarins that can not only withstand diverse climate conditions but have a low seed count.  Brief Description: ‘KinnowLS’ is a mandarin selection developed by mutation breeding of the diploid mandarin cultivar ‘Kinnow’, having only two to three seeds per fruit in all situations of cross-pollination. It is a mid- to late-season maturing diploid mandarin that combines large-sized fruit of excellent quality and production with low seed content even in mixed plantings. ‘KinnowLS’ exhibits vertical tree growth habits, which allows it to produce a large and dense crown. This novel hybrid could be successful in a mid-to-late season marketing window which currently has few low-seeded, high quality cultivars.

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.

Redirecting Cytosol Lipid Droplets for Enhanced Production

Background: Lipids (oils) produced by plants and photosynthetic microorganisms are used for general cooking, health food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and biodiesel. The current methods to produce oils with photosynthetic microorganisms are inefficient, since the cells must undergo extreme stress for lipid droplet (LD) accumulation and then be killed for extraction. Accumulation of LDs in the cytosol generates metabolic feedback inhibition. Some of these problems also apply to oil production with plants. A more efficient production practice is needed to meet high consumer and commercial demands.  Brief Description: UCR researchers have developed a method to optimize oil synthesis in microorganisms and plants by redirecting cytosolic LDs to the cell vacuoles. 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 (storage warehouses), thus eliminating metabolic feedback inhibition. Currently, they are also working towards achieving redirection of lipids to the cell exterior for excretion.

Exocyst as a Novel Anti-Cancer and Anti-Diabetic Drug Target

This technology introduces exocyst, a key player in exocytosis, as a novel drug target for developing innovative therapeutics and pesticides, for the first time. Moreover, it offers a specific inhibitor named Endosidin2 against EXO70, one of the exocyst subunits, which together with another subunit, Sec3, is considered to be responsible for the physical attachment of vesicles to the inner side of the plasma membranes. Interestingly, Endosidin2 is able to act on EXO70 in both plants and human cells, due to the conservation of exocyst structure across phyla of life. Therefore, the ability to modulate EXO70, and in turn exocytosis, in a dose-dependent and reversible manner, opens up many opportunities to develop drugs against EXO70-related diseases such as diabetes and various types of cancer in humans, and disease control in plants. It also opens opportunities to modulate plant nutrient storage and secretion

High Transformation Efficiency Non-Dormant Alfalfa Line 2525-14

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: Citrus greening disease, also known as huanglongbing (HLB), is a stubborn bacterial disease caused by insect-transmission and phloem-limited bacterial pathogens. It has been a serious threat to the US citrus industry, decimating many citrus trees and costing the economy $11B in damages annually. The most commonly used method of nucleic-acid based pathogen detection has issues with low-titer (low concentration of antibodies to antigen) and cannot handle the erratic distribution of the pathogens.   Brief Description: UCR researchers have developed a proof-of-concept for using secreted proteins of bacterial pathogens to detect bacterial diseases. These abundant and stable secreted proteins serve as robust detection markers for immunoassay-based diagnostics. Compared to current methods, this novel method is more high-throughput, economical, and able to monitor the pathogens dispersed throughout the plant transportation system.

Novel Multiplex Assay Detects Citrus Pathogens

Background: Citrus greening disease, also known as huanglongbing (HLB), has been a serious, pervasive problem caused by a multitude of plant pathogens. It has decimated many citrus trees, drastically decreasing orange production and costing the US economy an estimated $11B every year. Currently, there is no cure for HLB, so the citrus industry is in dire need for a cost-effective method of early HLB detection.  Brief Description: UCR Researchers have developed a means to detect and identify multiple plant pathogens for disease diagnosis, including citrus greening disease. By developing a novel multiplex RNA assay, they discovered ten targets of nine citrus pathogens and a citrus control gene. In addition to the assays, target-specific probes were designed and implemented to improve the pathogen detection process. These assays were also coupled with high-throughput robotic extraction and purification procedures, optimized for citrus tissues. Furthermore, they also developed a 3-plex DNA assay system along with 3 targets for simultaneous detection, identification and quantification of plant pathogens.

'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: California is one of the largest citrus producers in the world, and the demand for fresh citrus fruit that is seedless or low-seeded is on the rise. W. Murcott mandarin is the currently popular mandarin cultivar that has been known worldwide for its high quality and about 2-3 million trees have been widely planted throughout California over the past decade. Unfortunately, isolation of citrus orchards have been difficult and consequently, W. murcott mandarins have become very seedy due to cross pollination by other citrus varieties. Therefore, consumer demands for mandarins that can maintain a low seed count and high-quality is increasing.  Brief Description: UCR researchers developed the ‘Gold Nugget’ mandarin which is a hybrid of ‘Wilking’ and ‘Kincy’ mandarins. that has a deep orange colored flesh, extremely fine texture, and is low-seeded in all situations of cross pollination. This medium sized mandarin grows vigorously in upright form and has outstanding storage characteristics on its trees. It matures in mid- to late-season.

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

Pamela Ronald and researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) 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.

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.

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

Zinc-Finger Protein that Promotes Silencing at Specific Loci

Researchers at UCLA have discovered and characterized the function of a unique zinc-finger containing protein that has the ability to silence gene expression.

Better Tomatoes! Gene Introgression for Improving Fruit Quality

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed methods for improving fruit quality by introgressing genes encoding specific transcription factors into the plant.

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