Date palm 2.5 years after grafting. Inset shows a magnified region at the base of the plant, with the arrowhead pointing to the graft junction.
CREDIT: Julian Hibberd
Scientists have found a novel way to combine two species of grass-like plant including banana, rice and wheat, using embryonic tissue from their seeds. The technique allows beneficial characteristics, such as disease resistance or stress tolerance, to be added to the plants.
Grafting is the technique of joining the shoot of one plant with the root of another, so they continue to grow together as one. Until now it was thought impossible to graft grass-like plants in the group known as monocotyledons because they lack a specific tissue type, called the vascular cambium, in their stem.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered that root and shoot tissues taken from the seeds of monocotyledonous grasses – representing their earliest embryonic stages – fuse efficiently. Their results are published today in the journal Nature.
An estimated 60,000 plants are monocotyledons; many are crops that are cultivated at enormous scale, for example rice, wheat and barley.
The finding has implications for the control of serious soil-borne pathogens including Panama Disease, or ‘Tropical Race 4’, which has been destroying banana plantations for over 30 years. A recent acceleration in the spread of this disease has prompted fears of global banana shortages.
“We’ve achieved something that everyone said was impossible. Grafting embryonic tissue holds real potential across a range of grass-like species. We found that even distantly related species, separated by deep evolutionary time, are graft compatible,” said Professor Julian Hibberd in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, senior author of the report.
The technique allows monocotyledons of the same species, and of two different species, to be grafted effectively. Grafting genetically different root and shoot tissues can result in a plant with new traits – ranging from dwarf shoots, to pest and disease resistance.
The scientists found that the technique was effective in a range of monocotyledonous crop plants including pineapple, banana, onion, tequila agave and date palm. This was confirmed through various tests, including the injection of fluorescent dye into the plant roots – from where it was seen to move up the plant and across the graft junction.
“I read back over decades of research papers on grafting and everybody said that it couldn’t be done in monocots. I was stubborn enough to keep going – for years – until I proved them wrong,” said Dr Greg Reeves, a Gates Cambridge Scholar in the University of Cambridge Department of Plant Sciences, and first author of the paper.
He added: “It’s an urgent challenge to make important food crops resistant to the diseases that are destroying them. Our technique allows us to add disease resistance, or other beneficial properties like salt-tolerance, to grass-like plants without resorting to genetic modification or lengthy breeding programmes.”
The world’s banana industry is based on a single variety, called the Cavendish banana – a clone that can withstand long-distance transportation. With no genetic diversity between plants, the crop has little disease-resilience. And Cavendish bananas are sterile, so disease resistance can’t be bred into future generations of the plant. Research groups around the world are trying to find a way to stop Panama Disease before it becomes even more widespread.
Grafting has been used widely since antiquity in another plant group called the dicotyledons. Dicotyledonous orchard crops including apples and cherries, and high value annual crops including tomatoes and cucumbers, are routinely produced on grafted plants because the process confers beneficial properties – such as disease resistance or earlier flowering.
The researchers have filed a patent for their grafting technique through Cambridge Enterprise. They have also received funding from Ceres Agri-Tech, a knowledge exchange partnership between five leading UK universities and three renowned agricultural research institutes.
“Panama disease is a huge problem threatening bananas across the world. It’s fantastic that the University of Cambridge has the opportunity to play a role in saving such an important food crop,” said Dr Louise Sutherland, Director Ceres Agri-Tech.
Original Article: 3D-bioprinted tissues can now be stored in the freezer until needed
More from: University of Cambridge
The Latest on: Panama Disease
- ‘It’s like a gun to the head’: Panama disease threatens Aussie bananason June 23, 2022 at 1:36 pm
Panama disease tropical race 4 has been detected at a sixth commercial banana farm in Tully, on Queensland’s Cassowary Coast, where almost four in every five Australian bananas are grown. Biosecurity ...
- Panama TR4 confirmed on Tully Valley banana farmon June 23, 2022 at 10:37 am
FAR North banana growers are nervous with panama disease detected on a sixth commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley.
- New children's book set to educate the next generation on Panama disease tropical race 4on June 23, 2022 at 2:00 am
Local school children go bananas with the new children's book 'Charlie Goes Bananas!' authored by Matilda Bishop. Picture: supplied from Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The next ...
- What is myelodysplastic syndrome? Panama's president diagnosed with rare blood disorderon June 21, 2022 at 1:20 pm
Laurentino Cortizo, the President of Panama on Monday (June 20 ... undergo a second evaluation in the US city of Houston in July to find out the extent of the disease. "I want to say that I feel well, ...
- President of Panama announces blood cancer diagnosis, ‘will continue with work’on June 21, 2022 at 2:56 am
Panama's new president Laurentino Cortizo gestures during his inauguration ceremony, in Panama City, Panama on Monday. Cortizo announced that he would create a special unit to get ...
- President Of Panama Announces Blood Cancer Diagnosison June 21, 2022 at 12:22 am
The President of Panama Laurentino Cortizo said on Monday that he has blood ... a second evaluation in the US city of Houston in July to find out the extent of the disease. "I want to say that I feel ...
- What Did COVID Teach Us about Preparing for a Plant Pandemic?on June 20, 2022 at 11:30 am
Agricultural pathogens are evolving and spreading at a troubling rate—and the COVID pandemic offers important lessons for how we should prepare for them. Plant diseases can be catastrophic. One of the ...
- How the World's Favorite Banana Became Extinct (And the Odds It Will Happen Again)on January 28, 2022 at 11:55 am
But problems with Panama disease, a fungus that causes the banana plant to wilt, showed up in the late 1800s and spread. Named for the first place where it caused major devastation, the fungus ...
- The ‘pandemic’ destroying the world’s favourite fruiton August 28, 2020 at 6:43 pm
Sound familiar? Although this may sound remarkably like Covid-19, I am actually talking about Tropical Race 4 (TR4), a disease that affects bananas. Also known as Panama Disease, it is a fungus ...
- Modified bananas beat Panama diseaseon March 2, 2018 at 4:09 am
BANANA growers worldwide are in positive mood after scientists unveiled the first Cavendish bananas with resistance to their industry's bane, Panama disease. The soil-borne disease is caused by a ...
via Bing News
The Latest on: Panama Disease
via Google News