Tomato plants expressing two animal antiapoptotic genes can better fend off a common lethal virus and cold temperatures, researchers report in the early edition of PNAS this week.

The work represents another step forward in the study of plant programmed cell death (PCD), an essential process for plant growth and development, according to senior author Marilyn Roossinck, from the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. And for tomatoes, which are very sensitive to the cold and harbor no known natural resistance to the virus used in the report, it represents a potentially valuable agricultural method.

People are very excited by idea of a more cold-tolerant tomato plant, Roossnick told The Scientist. "We are also very optimistic about being able to sort out more details about PCD in plants with this system," she said.

Roossinck, lead author Ping Xu, and Stephanie Rogers began with a molecular parasite of cucumber mosaic...

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