"Scientists have been trying to solve the ABA receptor problem for more than 20 years, and claims for ABA receptors are not easily received by the scientific community," said Cutler, who came to UCR in 2007 from the University of Toronto. "We screened thousands of chemicals for one that mimics ABA. We found pyrabactin activates some of the ABA receptors in plants and is an excellent mimic of ABA. Moreover, unlike ABA, it is stable and easy to make. It therefore suggests a highly effective chemical strategy for improving plants' ability to survive under low-water conditions, potentially benefiting farmers in drought-prone areas worldwide."
Cutler's approach highlights the power of the chemical genetic approach for uncovering new leads for agrichemistry and, in turn, using those leads to understand a biological process.
"This is a striking example of how a chemical allowed us to solve a problem that genetics has been struggling with," he said. "Clearly, chemical genetics can be used to bypass some of the limitations that slow down classical genetic analysis. Not too long ago, the United Nations called for a 'blue revolution' - the water equivalent of the green revolution - of improved water management and sharing. We have proven that we can enlist chemicals that modulate stress responses in crops as soldiers in the blue revolution. Now our goal is to design the best chemical soldiers possible."
Study results appear April 30 in Science Express and in the May 22 issue of Science magazine.
Because of the prior questionable data in the ABA field, Cutler, the research paper's lead author, took the unusual step of sharing his data
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside