Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Find Gene Regulating Plant Growth and Pest Resistance in Rice

April 4, 2018

Expansins are proteins that can loosen the cell wall. Previous studies have indicated that expansin-encoding genes are also involved in defense against abiotic stresses. However, little is known about their involvement in the defense against biotic stresses. The team of Jiang Tan from the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that one rice (Oryza sativa) expansin-encoding gene, OsEXPA10, functions in both plant growth and biotic resistance.

Overexpression of OsEXPA10 in rice improved plant growth. However, it also increased susceptibility to brown planthopper (BPH), a major insect pest of rice, infestation and to rice blast caused by Magnaporthe grisea. On the other hand, knock-down of the gene resulted in reduced plant height and grain size, but with increased resistance to BPH and rice blast.

These results imply that OsEXPA10 mediates the balance between rice development and biotic resistance. This could serve as foundation for future studies on the development of improved rice varieties.

For more information, read the article in Plant Cell Reports.