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Crop Biotech Update

Transgenic Sugarcane Can Grow in Potassium Scarce Conditions

June 4, 2014

Low potassium availability has always been a major constraint to sugarcane production. Previously, two genes, CBL9 and CIPK23, were found to be responsible for the activation of the AKT1 gene, which controls a potassium channel, responsible for potassium uptake in roots.

Based on these previous studies, three components of the signaling pathway, AtCBL9, AtCIPK23, and AtAKT1 from Arabidopsis thaliana were co-overexpressed in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.). This resulted in a 31% increase in potassium content of transgenic plants at low-potassium stress. The evaluation was also done in hydroponic culture in which a 35% increase in potassium content was observed in transgenics compared to non-transgenic lines.

Under low potassium conditions, transgenic lines had longer roots, higher plant height, heavier dry weight than non-transgenic lines, indicating better growth of transgenic lines. This study showed that co-overexpression of AtCBL9, AtCIPK23 and AtAKT1 could significantly increase sugarcane potassium uptake ability and tolerance to low-potassium stress. These findings would have significant implications for improving stress tolerance of sugarcane in areas where potassium supply is scarce.

 For more information on this study, feel free to visit http://www.pomics.com/qi_7_3_2014_188_194.pdf.