In this regard, a collaborative project between Dr. Ullah (Howard University) and Dr. Dakshanamurthy (Georgetown University) has isolated dozens of small compounds targeting the functional domain of a well characterized scaffold protein RACK1A in the model plant Arabidopsis. Through reverse genetics studies, RACK1A in Arabidopsis is found to negatively regulate the drought stress resistance pathway and the isolated molecules through binding to the key tyrosine phosphorylation sites which are expected to chemically knock-out in vivo RACK1A function- conferring resistance to drought stress. In short, this protein is responsible for regulating a plants response to drought and other environmental stress and determines whether or not the plant will "shut-down" and stop photosynthesis from occurring.
The compounds have been tested extensively and they show high promise in providing non-GMO resistance to drought and salt stress in several crops. A large field trial has been approved and will commence in the spring of 2015.
The efficacies of the compounds are demonstrated in various experiments and are presented in detail below.
Broader Impacts: Due to the increasingly volatile climatic conditions, plants are often faced with adverse environmental stresses like drought, cold, high heat, salt, UV light, water stress and oxygen deprivation (hypoxia and anoxia). A considerable level of crop loss due to environmental stresses is a great concern not only for the farmers but also for the consumers as a whole.
Salinity is one of the most serious factors limiting the productivity of agricultural crops, with adverse effects on germination, plant vigour and crop yield. Farmers find it difficult to grow crops in many irrigated areas due to use of brackish water. Worldwide, more than 45 million hectares of irrigated land have been damaged by salt. This project has developed several small compounds that show potential to address many of these issues by allowing crops to withstand such stresses. This will not only help farmers grow crops under these conditions, thereby reducing crop loss, but will also have huge societal benefit in terms of food security.
Transformative Utility: Because these environmental stresses have become the primary limiting factors in global food production, causing a growing concern for food security, it has been demonstrated that the compounds being developed can potentially change the way farmers protect their crops from such stresses, thereby providing a significant commercial opportunity.
Potential Commercial Impact: This transformative idea to regulate drought stress responses in crop plants by applying fertilizer like small compounds has been extensively pursued in collaborative work between the labs of Dr. Dakshanamurthy and Dr. Ullah. Due to the many implications for improving world food supply, prior research in India has identified a drought damage-preventing compound called Pyrabactin, which was ranked by Science Magazine as a top ten breakthrough of the year in 2009. However, Pyrabactin incompletely inhibits the signaling pathway that results in drought damage. Therefore, a successful demonstration of any new compound that provides safe and effective protection against damage to crops in drought conditions would present an enormous commercial opportunity.
In this regard, the CropGenics team has isolated dozens of small compounds targeting the functional domain of a well characterized scaffold protein RACK1A in the model plant Arabidopsis and has demonstrated the ability to completely inhibit the signaling pathways influenced by drought damage.
The successful demonstration of this new RACK1A inhibitor chemical provides safe and effective protection against damage to crops in drought conditions. This new compound would alone or in combination with Pyrabactin present a viable solution to the problem of drought, high salinity, and other environmental stresses in both food and non-food crops.
The first video shows the potential for the CropGenics SD-29-12 compound to allow crops to grow in the presence of drought and high salt conditions. This is a non-GMO compound tested on a tomato plant:
12 Day Period:
Left - Tomato plant with no water
Middle - Tomato plant with no water with SD-29-12 compound
Right - Tomato plant with water
This video explains how the small SD-29-12 compounds induced salt and drought tolerance in a tomato plant:
1.Ullah, H., Scappini, E., Moon, AF., Williams, LV., Armstrong, DL., and Pedersen, LC (2008) Crystal Structure of a signal transduction regulator, RACK1, from Arabidopsis thaliana. Protein Sci 17(10):1771-80.
2. Kundu N., Dozier U., Deslandes L., Somssich IE, Ullah, H.. "Arabidopsis scaffold protein RACK1A interacts with diverse environmental stress and photosynthesis related proteins," Plant Signal Behavior, v.Vol 8, 2013.
3. Dr. Dakshanamurthy Bio
4. Dr. Ullah Bio 5. Lab Test Video 16. Lab Test Video 27. Patent: Methods for modulating plant response to environmentally-induced stress Publication# WO 2013151769 A1
Environmental stress like drought and salt destroy billions of dollars’ worth of crops worldwide each year, and if predictions of climate change come to pass, the losses will increase in the future. Development of crop plants that can withstand drought and salt stress is at the forefront of plant science-based endeavors. Genetic modification-based approaches (GMO) have shown the potential to develop such plants, however, inherent complications and lack of wide spread acceptability of GMO foods hinder advancement. A transformative idea would be to regulate environmental stress responses in crop plants by applying fertilizer-like small compounds through non-GMO methods.
Revolutionary Bio Stimulant for Crop Protection and Growth in Stressful Conditions.
SD-29 Modulates RACK1A, a Drought Stress Response Protein by Binding and Disturbing its Functional Motif
Elucidated at Georgetown University and Howard University