How sweet it is

Ran across an interesting item out of the University of Florida earlier this week. Seems a team of researchers at UF’s North Florida Research & Education Center near Quincy have discovered that saccharin — the artificial sweetener — may help ward off soybean rust.

UF writer Tom Nordlie  reported that the Quincy study is one example of scientists’ efforts to harness a phenomenon called systemic acquired resistance (SAR). SAR occurs when a plant receives minor exposure to a pathogen and responds by increasing its resistance to that pathogen for a period of time.

In the Florida study, researchers grew soybeans in greenhouses and applied a saccharin solution to their roots or leaves. The plants were then exposed to the soybean rust fungus. Compared with control plants, the treated soybeans showed less severe symptoms, with no effect on plant size or growth.

Jim Marois, a plant pathologist at the Quincy center is quoted as saying, “part of the purpose of the study was to see if SAR works against Asian soybean rust and we were happy to see it did. So even if we don’t end up using saccharin in the future, we could use something else.”

There has been a lot of time, energy and money spent on keeping Asian rust from reaching its potential in the U.S. soybean crop since it made its initial appearance in 2004 — and the effort has been successful to date. But wouldn’t it be nice to have another bullet for the gun?

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

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