Paper in Cell

Opportunities to engineer cold tolerance in plants to enhance crop growth and improve yield

Online edition of the journal Cell on 22 June 2017

NUS Press Release (23 Jun 2017)

A team of plant biologists led by Dr Xu Jian found that some plants may selectively kill part of their roots to survive under cold weather conditions. This approach allows the plants to withstand chilling stress and to recover faster when the weather turns better. The first author of the paper, Dr Hong Jin Han, carried out the research as part of her doctoral thesis under the supervision of Dr Xu. She is now a Research Fellow at Duke-NUS, working with Professor Teh Bin Tean, a recipient of the Singapore Translational Research (STaR) Investigator Award.

The discovery and understanding of this survival approach could pave the way for the development of novel strategies to improve the growth and yield of crops that undergo such environmental stress.

The study, was carried out using a small flowering plant called thale cress, known scientifically as Arabidopsis. This plant is a member of the Brassicaceae family, and its relatives include mustard greens, cabbage and kale.

The research was carried out in collaboration with scientists from the Novosibirsk State University, and the findings were reported in the online edition of the journal Cell on 22 June 2017.