Outside the developed world, global population continues to rise but all of the best agricultural locations are in use. If we want people to be self-sufficient (and we do) science is going to need to be able to help the developing world with innovative and sustainable solutions.

Modern agriculture has not reached any kind of limit, we can easily boost food production by as much as 70-100% in the next few decades. To grow in more difficult areas, and to be resistant to swings in weather, more drought-tolerant food crops are essential.  

Study co-authors Roel Rabara and Paul Rushton, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Dallas, TX, and Prateek Tripathi, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, have written a new article focusong on the role of transcription factors, described as "master regulators" because they are important components of many genetic regulatory pathways and may be able to control clusters of genes. Drought tolerance is a complex trait that is regulated by multiple genes. 

Techniques for the manipulation of TF genes to improve drought responses in plants. 

In the article, the authors describe current strategies for using transcription factors to improve drought tolerance and discuss how novel, advanced technologies will help study promising, genetically engineered food crops under field growing conditions.

"With limited water supply continuing to constrain food crop production, understanding and improving crop tolerance to drought is a grand challenge for 21st century biology and medicine, and to feed a massive world population," says OMICS Editor-in-Chief Vural Özdemir, MD, PhD, DABCP, Gaziantep University, Faculty of Communications and Office of the President, Gaziantep, Turkey, and Co-Founder, the Data-Enabled Life Sciences Alliance International (DELSA Global), Seattle, WA. "Transcription factors are veritable candidates for innovation in the next generation of transgenic crops because of their natural role in plant growth and development. Field studies (not only greenhouse measures) will provide additional insights to measure their actual impact and innovation."

Citation: Rabara Roel C., Tripathi Prateek, and Rushton Paul J., 'The Potential of Transcription Factor-Based Genetic Engineering in Improving Crop Tolerance to Drought',  OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology, doi:10.1089/omi.2013.0177. Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News