Heat Tolerance

Heat stress due to increased temperature is an agricultural problem in many areas in the world. Constantly high temperatures cause an array of physiological and biochemical changes in plants, which affect plant growth and development and may lead to a drastic reduction in economic yield. The adverse effects of heat stress can be mitigated by developing crop plants with improved thermotolerance using various genetic approaches. (7)


How is it done?

High temperature tolerance has been genetically engineered in plants mainly by over-expressing the heat shock protein genes or indirectly by altering levels of heat shock transcription factor proteins. Apart from heat shock proteins, thermotolerance has also been altered by elevating levels of osmolytes, increasing levels of cell detoxification enzymes and through altering membrane fluidity. (8)


Picture provided by humanflowerproject.com 

 Cold tolerance

Cold tolerant plants are able to withstand the severe drop in temperature during the winter without dying. With this gene, farmers who live in an unsuitable area will be able to grow their crops year round, giving more food to the economy.

What is being done?

Victorian scientists have made a major breakthrough that promises to save farmers worldwide billions of dollars a year and boost grain yield. The discovery of an antifreeze gene in a plant from Antarctica by state government scientists is expected to sustain farm incomes and strengthen rural economies by preventing cereals and grasses from being destroyed by frost.

The Australian team isolated the gene sequence responsible for the Antarctic plant's frost resistance and inserted it into a test plant in Victoria.The Department of Primary Industries team headed by Professor German Spangenberg and Dr Ulrik John, of the Victorian AgriBiosciences Centre at La Trobe University, then found that under certain conditions the test plant had the same frost-resistant characteristics. (9)

Professor German Spangberg with Antarctic hairgrass. Picture provided by theage.com.au

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