Leaf yellowing, or senescence, has a big impact on agriculture and our lives in several ways. Leaf senescence limits crop yields and biomass accumulation as well as the postharvest storage, transportation, and shelf-life of many vegetable crops and flowers. In addition, a senescing leaf or fruit becomes vulnerable to pathogens, some of which may produce toxins that render foods unsafe. Our research on the underlying mechanisms of leaf senescence will help us devise ways to delay it.
We have used various molecular genetics and genomics approaches to the issues, and we have identified some key regulators of leaf senescence. Further, we have demonstrated that we can delay leaf senescence by manipulating these regulators.
Cornell is filing a patent application on one of our findings. The specific dollar amount is hard to estimate at this stage.