Biotech Updates

SMARTER Cereal Breeding Using Small RNAs

August 10, 2016

Researchers are constantly tinkering with plant breeding strategies to further improve the development of new high-yielding, stress-tolerant cereal varieties.

Small RNAs (sRNA) are small gene-regulating molecules in plant cells involved in stress adaptation. University of Adelaide researchers, led by Haipei Liu, now believe they could be exploited to breed and develop plants with favorable stress tolerant traits. Researchers now introduce "SMARTER" cereal breeding: Small RNA-Mediated Adaptation of Reproductive Targets in Epigenetic Regulation, harnessing the ability of sRNAs to alter gene expression.

The new method uses small RNAs during plant development to control characteristics. Reproductive and physiological traits such as flowering time, reproductive branching, and root architecture can also be manipulated through sRNA regulatory modules. The researchers also reviewed sRNA-mediated pathways that could be utilized to develop traits as well as high-yielding stress tolerant cereals.

For more details, read the article in Trends in Plant Science.