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Crop Biotech Update

Disruption of a Small Non-coding RNA Leads to Better Rice Yield

October 2, 2019

Previous studies have shown the microRNA miR396 prevents rice GROWTH-REGULATING FACTORS (OsGRFs) and regulates rice yields and nitrogen assimilation. When miR396 is overexpressed, it targets OsGRF4 and OsGRF6, improving rice yield. Scientists at Chinese Academy of Sciences used CRISPR-Cas9 to evaluate more functions of miR396 in rice.

Dysfunctional MIR396ef led to improved grain size and panicle branching, leading to better yield. When the mutant rice plants were placed in nitrogen-deficient conditions, grain yield was much higher as well as the above-ground biomass. The researchers pinpointed OcGRF8 as the new target of miR396, in addition to previously identified targets. Disruption of the miR396 targeting site in OSGRF8 was enough to improve grain size and elongate panicles.

Based on the findings, rice seed and panicle development are controlled by miR396ef-GRF4/6/8-GIF1/2/3 modules, and that miR396ef are potential targets of genome editing for development of better rice varieties that require less nitrogen fertilization.

Read the complete manuscript at National Science Review.

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