Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Discover Gene that Confers Flood Tolerance, Drought Tolerance, and Disease Resistance in Rice

March 21, 2018

An international collaboration between researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Nagoya University and the University of Western Australia has discovered a gene in rice that confers flood tolerance, drought tolerance, and disease resistance, and the discovery of the gene is a major step forward in the quest to produce climate smart crops.

The gene LGF1 controls the nano-structure of leaf surfaces. During flood events, the gene enables survival of submerged rice since the wax nano-structures retain a thin Leaf Gas Film; hence the name of the gene, LGF1. The gas films facilitate gas exchange with floodwater so that carbon dioxide can be taken up at daytime in order to fuel underwater photosynthesis, and oxygen can be extracted at night. The LGF1 gene also confers drought tolerance, since the tiny wax crystals reduce evaporation from leaf surfaces, conserving tissue water. "We have assessed the importance of leaf gas films during submergence of rice, and in some "situations, rice grows equally well above, as well as below water – only because rice possesses the LGF1 gene', said Ole Pedersen of the University of Copenhagen.

For more, read the University of Copenhagen News.