Agrochemical control of plant water use using engineered abscisic acid receptors

Sang Youl Park, Francis C. Peterson, Assaf Mosquna, Jin Yao, Brian F. Volkman, Sean R. Cutler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations


Rising temperatures and lessening fresh water supplies are threatening agricultural productivity and have motivated efforts to improve plant water use and drought tolerance. During water deficit, plants produce elevated levels of abscisic acid (ABA), which improves water consumption and stress tolerance by controlling guard cell aperture and other protective responses. One attractive strategy for controlling water use is to develop compounds that activate ABA receptors, but agonists approved for use have yet to be developed. In principle, an engineered ABA receptor that can be activated by an existing agrochemical could achieve this goal. Here we describe a variant of the ABA receptor PYRABACTIN RESISTANCE 1 (PYR1) that possesses nanomolar sensitivity to the agrochemical mandipropamid and demonstrate its efficacy for controlling ABA responses and drought tolerance in transgenic plants. Furthermore, crystallographic studies provide a mechanistic basis for its activity and demonstrate the relative ease with which the PYR1 ligand-binding pocket can be altered to accommodate new ligands. Thus, we have successfully repurposed an agrochemical for a new application using receptor engineering. We anticipate that this strategy will be applied to other plant receptors and represents a new avenue for crop improvement.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)545-548
Number of pages4
Issue number7548
StatePublished - 23 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank N. Chen for technical assistance constructing the K59R pocket library, J. Mandal for RNA-seq library preparation, D. Jensen for protein production, J. Bailey-Serres for comments on the manuscript and M. Nuccio, M. Nina and F. Early for suggestions regarding candidate agrochemicals. This work was supportedinpartbytheNationalScienceFoundation(IOS 1258175, MCB1022378 to S.R.C.), Syngenta Corporation (S.R.C. and F.P.), and a United States–Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Postdoctoral Fellowship F1-440-2010 (to A.M.).

Publisher Copyright:
©2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


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