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Crop Biotech Update

NAL8 Contributes to Leaf and Spikelet Development in Rice

October 16, 2019

Researchers identified a protein complex that plays vital roles in many developmental processes, including development  of normal leaf width and spikelet number at the reproductive stage in rice. The functions were confirmed in transgenic plants using CRISPR-Cas9 system, RNAi gene silencing system, and overexpressing system. The results are published in BMC Plant Biology.

Leaf morphology and spikelet number are two important traits linked with grain yield. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate the two traits would be vital in the improvement of cereal crops. Chinese Academic of Sciences researchers identified a prohibitin complex 2α subunit, NAL8, which contributes to multiple developmental process and is required for normal leaf width and spikelet number at the reproductive stage in rice. Using CRISPR-Cas9, RNAi, and overexpressing systems, they found that mutation of NAL8 causes a reduction in cell division. The auxin levels in the nal8 mutants were higher than the control, while cytokinin concentrations were lower. Further analyses showed that NAL8 is involved in several hormone signaling pathways as well as photosynthesis in chloroplasts and respiration in mitochondria.

Based on the results of the study, it was concluded that NAL8 works as a molecular chaperone in controlling plant leaf morphology and spikelet number.

Read more results in BMC Plant Biology.

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