Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Uncover Root Mechanism to Boost Crop Performance

June 11, 2014

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham have uncovered a new mechanism which allows plants to regulate root architecture, a discovery that could lead to better ways of growing crops.

The researchers discovered that a gene called AtMYB93 plays an important role in the regulation of root branching, an important aspect of root architecture. They found that plants with AtMYB93 switched off, had more and faster growth of lateral roots. They also discovered that the AtMYB93 gene was switched on in root cells by the plant hormone auxin.

Dr. Juliet Coates, from the University of Birmingham's School of Biosciences, said: "The AtMYB93 gene is exciting because of its specificity-it is only expressed in roots, and only in a few cells next to where the new root would form." She added that although the study is conducted using Arabidopsis plants, many other flowering plant species such as barley, rice, millet, grape, and oilseed rape have genes similar to AtMYB93.

For details, read the BBSRC news release at http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2014/140606-pr-root-growth-boost-crop-performance.aspx.