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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #440713

Research Project: Investigating Effects of Algal Toxins on Plants

Location: Application Technology Research

Project Number: 5082-21000-001-040-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2021
End Date: Jul 31, 2025

The main goal will be to develop multiple strategies to increase crop resistance to algal toxins. To address this, the following specific objectives will be pursued: (1) develop transgenic plants that can degrade toxins after plants take them up; (2) develop plants that degrade toxins before root uptake; (3) identify the pathways of toxin uptake by roots; (4) identify plant growth conditions that increase toxin degradation in soil by naturally-occurring microbes; and (5) screen existing crop genotypes for resistance to algal toxins.

We will transform Nicotiana benthamiana to transiently express a well-studied bacterial gene that degrades a toxin. N. benthamiana is a model species for this research. These plants will produce the relevant compounds either constitutively throughout or preferentially in roots (Objective 1). Additionally, we will develop plants that exude the compound from their roots into the surrounding soil (rhizosphere) by coupling gene expression to the secretory pathway (Objective 2). This is to provide “proof of concept” for this approach, which could lead to the development of horticultural crops that are able to degrade algal toxins.