Just recently, professor Kenji Nakahara from Japan's Hokkaido University decided to look into the possibility of using tobacco to safeguard crops against several viral threats present in the environment.
His research led him to the idea that tobacco is the way to go if we are to push for ever more efficient agricultural practices.
Apparently, a tobacco-based protein can significantly improve on crops’ immune systems, thus making them much more resilient when it comes to facing viral attacks.
As explained in professor Kenji Nakahara's study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, crops have a natural defense mechanism which helps them fight back various invaders.
This is no news, as most living organisms have evolved to develop ways of protecting themselves against threats present in their vicinity.
However, some micro-organisms defined by biologists as parasites find ways to either suppress or by-pass said immune response, and therefore, have no issues in infecting crops. As one can easily imagine, this directly impacts on human society and one of its most important food sources.
The good news is that a protein found in tobacco and usually referred to as Calmodulin (a.k.a. calcium modulated protein) can act and prevent naturally occurring viruses from shutting down the crops' immune system.
Professor Kenji Nakahara explains how Calmodulin simply attaches itself to the viral suppressors and thus manages to counteract their effect. Asia Research News
reports that the aforementioned scientist makes a case of how his findings can be used to develop new molecular breeding strategies, which in turn can be implemented in worldwide agricultural practices to boost production and help produce healthier crops.
Given the fact that present day crops are often threatened by pesticide-resistant viruses, it is a good thing that efforts are made to come up with new and efficient ways to safeguard them.