Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Find Soybean Genes for Alkaline Stress Resistance

July 18, 2018

Sucrose non-fermenting related protein kinases (SnRKs) play important roles in plant growth, development, metabolism and resistance to environmental stresses. The soybean genome has four SnRK1 genes, of which GmSnRK1.1 and GmSnRK1.2 are predominant and participate in multiple stress response pathways. To study the role of these genes in response to ABA and alkaline stresses, a research team from the Northeast Agricultural University in China used CRISPR-Cas9 to knock out both GmSnRK1.1 and GmSnRK1.2.

Analysis of the genome-edited soybeans showed that both genes were efficiently knocked out in 48.6% of the resulting hairy roots. The team, led by Hui Qing Li, also generated control hairy roots that overexpressed GmSnRK1. The wildtypes, knockout lines, and overexpressing lines were all treated with abscissic acid for 15 days. Results showed that the growth of the wildtypes and GmSnRK1-overexpressing roots were significantly inhibited compared to the double-knockout roots. The overexpressing roots also notably displayed less root lengths and fresh weights.

However, after treatment with sodium bicarbonate for 15 days, the growth of the double-knockout roots were significantly inhibited compared to the wildtype and GmSnRK1 overexpressed control roots. These results imply that knockout of GmSnRK1.1 and GmSnRK1.2 improved hairy root sensitivity to ABA but also lessened its resistance to alkaline stress.

For more information, read the article in Europe PMC.