Genetic manipulation can help plants resist freeze damage

Many plants have a natural protective mechanism against stress that works quite well against cold–if the plant is introduced gradually to the change in temperature, which gives it time to signal the mechanisms to trigger. Now at Iowa State University researchers are experimenting to seewhether genetically engineering an increase in Total Soluable Sugar Content (which directly correlates to cold resistance) will also increase resistance to sudden temperature drops–a highly desirable thing for food crops to be able to do. Their experiments are with corn and tobacco and they’ve succeeded so far in increasing tolerance by a couple of Celsius degrees.

Promising idea, getting plants to become hardier. Interesting that they included tobacco. That’s all we need–to be able to grow this destructive weed in more places around the world. Here’s a cool site about the science behind tobacco. Smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, cocaine, homicide, suicide, motor vehicle crashes and fires combined. And here’s the latest report on cigarette pricing from New Jersey. At $58.70 a carton in August of 2004, cigarettes are making more than a few somebodies a good chunk of money.