Seed World

Drought Resistance In Crops Enhanced By Blocking A Gene That Inhibits Root Growth

There is little information about the genes that control root development, but scientists know that root systems allow crops to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. New research published in New Phytologist shows that enhanced root growth in plants can be seen if a negative regulator gene of root development is blocked, according to a release.

The RRS1 gene, Robust Root System 1, encodes an R2R3-type MYB family transcription factor. This activates the expression of the OsIAA3 gene which inhibits root growth. Taking RRS1 out of plants caused the root length to be longer, the lateral root to be longer, and the lateral root density to be larger. There is a natural variant of RRS1 changes the activity of the RSS1 protein and had a similar positive impact on the roots.

The findings indicate that blocking the normal expression of RSS1 may enhance drought resistance in crops by promoting water absorption.

RRS1 is a new gene resource for improving root systems and cultivating drought-resistant rice varieties through gene-editing or marker-assisted breeding processes,” said co,corresponding author Zichao Li, PhD, of China Agricultural University, the Sanya Institute of China Agricultural University, and the Hainan Academy of Agricultural Sciences.