UIC-2007-047 – Phenylalanine, Suplied Externally or Internally to Crops, Prevents Damage from Environmental Stresses

UV damage to plants, plant products (fruits, grains, vegetables) and seeds is a recognized problem. The problem is exacerbated due to environmental damage (ozone layer depletion). It is widely agreed that UV-B radiation is damaging crop plants worldwide and that over the last ten years UV radiation has been increasing. The damage includes: reduction in biomass yield and quality of proteins, alterations in species competition, decrease in photosynthetic capability, increase in susceptibility to disease, and changes in plant ultrastructure and pigment production. Phenylalanine plays an important for all plants as the precursor to a large number of secondary metabolites. These compounds are critical to normal plant and prevent plant stress by synthesizing specific pigments that serve as a UV protectants. UIC inventors have demonstrated that when phenylalanine (an essential amino acid present naturally in plants) is introduced in etiolated seedlings, it is used by the phenylpropanoid pathway to produce a range of UV absorbing compounds which mitigate the harmful effects of UV rays on plants. Nelson Grihalde grihalde@otm.uic.edu 312-996-4129

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