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Crop Biotech Update

Root Angle Modifications Lead to Improved Rice Yields in Saline Fields

August 26, 2020

Scientists from the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization of Japan and partners showed that DEEPER ROOTING 1 (DRO1) homologs could be useful for the controlled breeding of root system architectures that are adapted to abiotic stress conditions caused by climate change. The research article is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS).

The root system architecture (RSA) of crops can have an impact on their production, especially when exposed to abiotic stress conditions such as drought, waterlogging, and salinity. Thus, through cloning and characterization of qSOR1 (quantitative trait locus for SOIL SURFACE ROOTING 1), a homolog of DRO1 (DEEPER ROOTING 1) that control RGA, a shallower root growth angle (RGA) could improve rice yields in saline paddies.

CRISPR-Cas9 assays showed that other homologs of DRO1 are also linked to RGA. Results indicated that natural versions of the DRO1 homologs could be used to regulate RSA variations in rice. In saline paddies, near-isogenic lines with qSOR1 loss-of-function allele had soil-surface roots which allowed the rice plants to sidestep the reducing stresses of saline soils, leading to better yields compared to the parental cultivars without SOR.

Read more findings in PNAS.

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