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Nov 17, 2010

Researchers ID Plant Genes That Detox Arsenic

The University of Zurich announced on 17 November that researchers at their university in colloboration with the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Plant Survival and laboratories in South Korea and the United States had identified two key plant genes that control the accumulation and detoxification of arsenic.

A complete science-based article on the findings was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 15 November 2010.

The findings are important because they may aid in reducing the incidents of arsenic transmitted into food crops, as well as help with environmental clean up.  Mining regions in China, Thailand and the United States are susceptible to arsenic poisioning as concentrated levels of arsenic run-off into water that is then potentially used in crop production.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are tens of millions of people exposed to concentrated arsenic levels.

"By identifying the genes responsible for the vacuolar phytochelatin transport and storage, we have found the missing link that the scientific community searched for the past 25 years, explains Enrico Martinoia, a professor in plant physiology at the University of Zurich. The experiments carried out on the model plant Arabidopsis can easily be adapted to other plants such as rice."

For more see:

Won-Yong Song, Jiyoung Park, David G. Mendoza-Cózatl, Marianne Suter-Grotemeyer, Donghwan Shim, Stefan Hörtensteiner, Markus Geisler, Barbara Weder, Philip A. Rea, Doris Rentsch, Julian I. Schroeder, Youngsook Lee, and Enrico Martinoia. "Arsenic tolerance in Arabidopsis is mediated by two ABCC-type phytochelatin transporters," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 15 November 2010. 

“Using Plants Against Soils Contaminated With Arsenic,” Checkbiotech.org, 17 November 2010 citing original press release in German from the University of Zurich.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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