“Relief of Repression” Strategy to Improve Plant Pest Resistance and Maintain Growth Rate


Executive Summary


Plants are vulnerable to pathogen and insect attack.  Typically, pathogen or insect attack elicits a defense response from the plant. Normally, plants choose between new growth and defending against insects or pathogens, and growth is slowed or stopped while the plant is defending itself. Our technology enables plants to grow with activated defenses. MSU researchers have discovered a way to engineer plants so that the plants have robust growth together with well defended leaves. This allows growers to reduce or eliminate pesticide applications while obtaining a normal crop yield. 


Description of Technology


This invention breaks the growth –defense tradeoff in plants through elimination or alteration of select genes.  This “relief of repression” strategy allows growers to reduce or eliminate pesticide applications while retaining high yields.  Reduction in pesticide applications benefits the human and natural environments, and also improves return-on-investment for farmers.  This technology may also be applied to increasing production of high-value secondary plant metabolites, such as arteminisin or digitalis.


Key Benefits

  • Robust growth together with high levels of disease and insect resistance
  • Improve overall biomass yields relative to wildtype
  • Reduce pesticide use
  • Increased production of valuable secondary metabolites



  • Increasing crop yields through increased defense
  • High biomass yields of bioenergy and forage crops
  • Improved secondary metabolite production


Patent Status: 


PCT Patent pending


Licensing Rights Available


Full licensing rights available. Interested in licensing or joint development projects.


Inventors: Dr. Greg Howe, Dr. Marcelo Campos, Dr. Yuki Yoshida


Tech ID: TEC2016-0034, TEC2016-0165


Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University