Ethanol increases high temperature tolerance in plants

June 22, 2022

Contributing to the development of fertilizers and technologies to improve high temperature tolerance of crops

A joint research group from the RIKEN CSRS, the University of Tsukuba and Yokohama City University has discovered that the application of ethanol to plants enhances their tolerance to high temperature stress.

Appropriate protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum is an essential process for maintaining cell viability. Various environmental stresses cause excessive accumulation of incorrectly folded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum. This situation is called “endoplasmic reticulum stress”.

In this study, the joint research group investigated the effectiveness of the application of ethanol, which is inexpensive and readily available, to a model plant Arabidopsis thaliana under high temperature stress conditions. They comprehensively analyzed quantitative changes of gene expression and metabolites. The results of the analysis suggested that an endoplasmic reticulum stress response (unfolded protein response: UPR) is involved in the acquisition of high-temperature stress tolerance. They next conducted drug treatment experiments and analysis of mutants involved in the endoplasmic reticulum stress response and found that ethanol treatment enhanced the endoplasmic reticulum stress response, thereby enhancing high-temperature stress tolerance. They also found that ethanol treatment can enhance tolerance to high temperature stress in lettuce.

The research results will make contribution to the development of fertilizers and technologies to enhance high-temperature tolerance of agricultural products.

Original article
Plant Molecular Biology doi:10.1007/s11103-022-01291-8
A. Matsui, D. Todaka, M. Tanaka, K. Mizunashi, S. Takahashi, Y. Sunaoshi, Y. Tsuboi, J. Ishida, K. Bashir, J. Kikuchi, M. Kusano, M. Kobayashi, K. Kawaura, M. Seki,
"Ethanol induces heat tolerance in plants by stimulating unfolded protein response".
Motoaki Seki; Team Leader
Daisuke Todaka; Senior Scientist
Plant Genomic Network Research Team