Crops can be made resistant to disease by giving them antibodies derived from alpacas.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia, UK, have developed a way to combat fungal infections in plants by fusing antibodies from alpacas and camels to a protein (Pik-1), naturally found in plants related to the tobacco plant family, which allows a type of fungus to infect them.
The group tested 11 versions of their so-called ‘pikobody’ by injecting them into the plants, and identified four that killed cells with Pik-1. They also saw that combining different pikobodies could provide different ways to fight infection and provide resistance.
It is hoped that this will provide crops with much better resistance to disease than current methods.