Biotech Updates

Identified Gene Boosts Water Use Efficiency in Apples

April 7, 2021

Researchers identified a gene that can increase apple's water use efficiency (WUE) when it is overexpressed. This discovery can be a potential solution to the water deficit in China's apple industry, one of the major limiting factors of apple production in some parts of the country.

Scientists investigated the relationship between autophagy, the natural mechanism cells use to remove its unnecessary components, and water use efficiency regulation. Autophagy has been reported to participate in a plant's various stress responses. The scientists identified MdATG8i as an autophagy protein in apples that play a role in improving salt tolerance. Their study explored its biological function in response to drought stress and found that over-expressing it resulted in higher WUE in apple plants under long-term moderate drought conditions leading to improved photosynthetic efficiency. Further investigation also revealed that photosynthetic capacity and accumulation of sugar and amino acids were higher in the transgenic apples compared to its wild-type counterparts which can be attributed to the transgenic apple's ability to maintain stomatal aperture, organized chloroplasts, and strong antioxidant activity. These findings led to the scientists' conclusion that MdATG8i overexpression likely promotes autophagic activity which may be related to the described changes in the plant's system. The new transgenic apple lines provide an optimal material for future research of apple varieties that show improved WUE under long-term moderate drought conditions.

Read the full article in Horticulture Research to know more.

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