Commercial Auxin Substitute
A University of California researcher has identified a low-cost, non-toxic compound that can be exogenously applied to plants as foliar sprays to annual vegetable and perennial tree crops under commercial production to elicit an auxin response. Currently, various auxin derivatives are used for this purpose (notably 2,4-D), but they are mutagenic and carcinogenic, which has made the use of such compounds in agricultural applications unacceptable to consumers in a number of European and Pacific-rim nations and has caused the use of 2,4-D to come under review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Because of the economic importance of auxin-regulated processes in fruit and vegetable production, a safer alternative compound could have significant commercial value. The citrus industry, for example, employs 2,4-D to prevent pre-harvest drop and to increase fruit size.
The natural auxin substitute found by the UC researcher is an environmentally benign and safe to humans. It is a substance that naturally occurs in living organisms, and is relatively inexpensive to use due to its lower cost of synthesis and efficaciousness when applied even at very low concentrations. This substitute, or derivatives with equivalent functionality, offer a very promising replacement for 2,4-D. In addition, the auxin substitute elicits novel non-auxin-related responses of commercial value, e.g. early reduction in acidity.
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