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Crop Biotech Update

SAPK9 Improves Drought Tolerance and Grain Yield in Rice

July 20, 2016

The members of the sucrose non-fermenting 1-related kinase 2 (SnRK2) family make up the core of abscisic acid (ABA)-dependent and -independent signaling pathways, and are also involved in regulating abiotic stress response in plants. The team of Avishek Dey of the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur recently characterized the SAPK9 gene, a SnRK2 of rice.

Analysis revealed that SAPK9 expression was higher in drought-tolerant rice and was higher in reproductive stage than the vegetative stage. The highest expression was found in leaves and the gene was upregulated during drought stress and ABA treatment. Overexpression (OE) of SAPK9 from O. rufipogon in drought-sensitive indica rice improved its drought tolerance compared to wild types.

Upregulated expressions of ABA-dependent stress-responsive genes and increased sensitivity to exogenous ABA of OE lines indicate that SAPK9 is a positive regulator of ABA-mediated stress signaling pathways in rice. The boosted yield-related traits of OE lines were a result of high pollen fertility in OE lines.

The SAPK9 gene has potential use in developing improved drought tolerance and grain yield in crops.

 For more information on this study, read the full article in BMC Plant Biology.