A group of scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has found a new method for the early detection of abiotic stress in plants in potato crops, by developing a variety that emits fluorescent light in the early stages of stress. This method can help alert growers of this issue and provide them with enough time to address problems before they lose the crop to this issue.
The research, published in Plant Physiology, details that the scientists chose to implement in the potato (Solanum tuberosum) a gene with a redox-sensitive fluorescent protein - targeting chloroplast 2 (roGFP2) - which is expressed in the presence of reactive chemical molecules of oxygen produced by tubers when they experience stress.
Thus, fluorescence becomes an indicator of abiotic stress, since the more stress a plant experiences, the more fluorescent protein it will produce and the more intense its brightness will be. The potato's fluorescence cannot be observed with the naked eye, but it is detectable with high-level fluorescent cameras.
In addition, the investigation allowed researchers to document that the accumulation of reactive oxygen species occurred in the initial phase of the plant's response to stressful conditions, such as drought, extreme temperatures, and extreme light.
Based on the findings, the team concluded that whole-plant redox imaging can serve as a powerful tool for basic understanding of plant stress responses and applied agricultural research, as well as for enhancing phenotyping capabilities in plant breeding programs, and early detection of stress responses in the field.