New York, New York
January 10, 2007 Plants might not get colds, but they do get viruses — and viral diseases in crops cause enormous economic damage each year. New research, however, suggests that plant “vaccines,” developed at Rockefeller University, may be a new way of helping fend off viral attackers.
“Plants possess several innate mechanisms to resist viruses,” says Nam-Hai Chua, Andrew W. Mellon Professor and head of the Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology, “but many viruses are able to overcome these barriers. Transgenic technology offers the possibility to genetically modify plants with genes encoding virus tolerance and/or resistance.” Chua’s research, published in November in Nature Biotechnology, shows that the new method can confer resistance against two turnip viruses.