Genetic studies help plants survive adverse conditions

By Peter Kent

Molecular biologist Hong LuoSouth Carolina’s reduced rainfall amounts make it more difficult for crops to thrive.

Molecular biologist Hong Luo’s research focuses on how to genetically improve crop plants, including turfgrass, switchgrass, soybeans and cotton.

"Many people do not realize that turfgrass is part of the state’s agriculture industry," said Luo. "We are looking at how to help it grow in stressful environments, such as drought or where the water may have a high salinity level."

In research funded by USDA, he and plant physiologist Haibo Liu look for genes that regulate traits to help the plants flourish. They also look for ways to improve the plants' ability to perform under adverse environmental conditions and ensure that the genes are not transferred to other plants.

For information: Hong Luo, 864-656-1746,