Summary: A major influence on the successful harvest of nearly every type of crop is adequate rainfall or irrigation. Particularly at critical phases in crop life cycle drought conditions can delay diminish or destroy productivity. Naturally drought resistant arid zone plants acutely control water metabolism through modification of stomatal opening. A simple and robust technology has now been developed which imparts exceptional drought resistance to any crop plant through manipulation of an NMDA-like receptor. This receptor plays a key role in mediating the hormonal regulation by Abscisic Acid (ABA) of stomatal opening and moisture retention during light and dark cycles. Inhibition or suppression of the receptor results in prolonged stomatal closing and water retention. Detailed Technology Description: -Suppression of an NMDA-like Receptor -Non-toxic chemical inhibitors of the enzyme originally developed for pharmaceutical use have been demonstrated to effectively impart drought resistance when applied to plants (wheat arabidopsis). Block of NMDA affinity has a protective CNS activity in animals. The technology thus can be used to impart temporary drought resistance as needed by spray application to the crop.
For the first time it should be possible to protect from transient drought conditions any crops ranging from grains to high value ornamentals to forestry species. The approach would involve an inhibitor spray or an activatible transgene incorporated into the plant. Both approaches have been tested successfully.