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Crop Biotech Update

Filipino Scientist Identifies Gene to Help Rice Plants Survive Drought

September 15, 2021

Dr. Nonawin Lucob-Agustin of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), together with researchers from Nagoya University in Japan has discovered a mutation gene that may help rice plants survive despite adverse conditions such as drought.

The team of researchers discovered the wavy root elongation growth 1 (weg1) gene, which may help rice cope with drought especially in rainfed lowlands where water is scarce. Lucob-Agustin explained that the gene was identified from mutants of a rice variety called Taichung 65 which has wavy parental roots compared to its normal type that has straight parental roots.

The weg1 mutant produces more L-type lateral roots, which are smaller roots produced from the parental root. L-type roots are more capable of higher order of branching and are important for the expansion of the entire root system for more absorption of water and nutrients from the soil.

The researchers also found high auxin level accumulation at the outer bent regions (curvatures) of the wavy parental root where L-type lateral roots grow. "High auxin level likely induces the formation of L-type lateral roots," Lucob-Agustin said.

For more details, read the news release from PhilRice.

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