Improving Plant Yields

    The improved stress response of this modification against drought has the potential to significantly enhance crop resilience in regions with limited access to water and low rainfall. This is highly relevant to Thailand, where droughts are a common occurrence and crops that are vulnerable to droughts such as rice and durians are major agricultural exports. Rice heavily relies on an abundance of water within their rice paddies and durians take years to grow and thus cost years of resources when damaged. The Thailand-RIS team surveyed farmers and farm owners in the agricultural province of Chanthaburi, Thailand. 35% of Chanthaburi farmers cited drought as the single most pressing issue against crop yields and overall health. 52% of farmers believed that stress-tolerant crops would produce ''several benefits'' for their farms. In open-response questions, the vast majority of farmers wrote that they would be willing to use genetically modified crops despite a preference for organic practices; with reluctant farmers stating a lack of time and the small scale of their farms as reasons for hesitance. The governor of Chanthaburi reflected this concern with droughts. As most Chanthaburi farmers grow durians, a crop that takes 5-7 years to reach full maturity, any negative effects of environmental stress can be a massively detrimental setback for farmers. This project demonstrated a 48-hour delay in the drought stress response in N. benthamiana, these additional hours can be theoretically applied to other plants. 48 hours could be the difference between flourishing crop yields or none at all, as it allows more time for farmers to collect water and resources to aid their plants during times of drought. With further research into this modification and its effects on both human consumers and other plants in agricultural settings, the modification of GCL with mitochondrial transit peptides has promising prospects in the realm of agriculture in Thailand and arid regions around the world.

Durian farm visited during Human Practices trip with the team.

Health Supplements

    The results of this lab could be further advanced into the health industry in order to create supplement γ-EC products without relying on the current preferred process of fermentation: a process that inhibits the production of intracellular products and poses difficulty in separation and purification. γ-EC, aside from being a combatant of ROS in plants and a precursor of GCL, has researched benefits for protecting the brain from stroke damage by reducing the chances of cerebral infarction[1]. γ-EC could thus potentially be produced as supplements and sold in the health industry. Fermentation and plant extraction are methods of extracting substances for use in products such as supplements. Plant extraction is a process generally not utilized in the health and beauty industries due to low yields compared to fermentation. As this project demonstrated higher levels of γ-EC, health companies could potentially use genetically modified plants to extract γ-EC in higher quantities. This could eliminate the need for fermentation of γ-EC, which is a complicated and difficult process. Additionally, the appeal of ''organically'' sourced γ-EC is largely appealing to health enthusiasts.


  1. Zhang, R., Lei, J., Chen, L., et al. γ-Glutamylcysteine exerts neuroprotection effects against cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury through inhibiting lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis. Antioxidants. 2022;11(9):1653. doi:10.3390/antiox11091653