Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wageningen scientist discovers genes that increase yield on marginal soils

13.03.2008
Genetically modified plants can be developed that perform significantly better than existing varieties in dry and saline soils. This is the conclusion of the doctorate thesis, to be defended by Shital Dixit at Wageningen University on March 14. Dixit discovered genes that radically enhance the seed production of rice and Arabidopsis plants in dry and saline conditions. This is a major breakthrough considering the rising demands for food and the effects of climate change.

The constantly rising world population and the changing climate will make it essential in the future to cultivate crops in soils where current varieties are unproductive. These so-called marginal soils are often too dry or contain too much salt for cultivation. There are many such areas around the world that are currently not being used for food production, and climate change will lead to huge increases in marginal soils.

Varieties that are less susceptible to drought and/or salt might make it possible to grow crops in marginal soils. Within plant biology, there are mechanisms known which allow plants to protect themselves against the a biotic stress caused by a lack of water or excessive salt. Using the genes which set these mechanisms into action and genetic modification, varieties can be developed which make the most of these mechanisms and are therefore resistant to drought and salt.

Shital Dixit studied the so-called 'HARDY' gene, found in a collection of Arabidopsis mutants in which certain jumping genes increase the activity of genes. Via genetic modification, Dixit developed Arabidopsis plants in which the HARDY gene was more active. She discovered that these genetically modified plants grew better under drought stress than ordinary Arabidopsis plants. The 'HARDY plants' used water more efficiently than normal plants. During desiccation of the soil, the plants were found to vaporise considerably less water while maintaining their growth. When the soil was dry, the HARDY plants lived on and recovered after being given water. They also proved to be resistant against high saline concentrations in the soil.

By means of genetic modification, Dixit managed to transfer the HARDY gene to rice. The HARDY rice plants also turned out to be tolerant to both drought and salt. To Dixit’s surprise, these improved rice plants also performed at least as well in optimal cultivation conditions as ordinary rice plants. The general rule in plant biology is that plants with increased stress tolerance perform worse in optimal conditions than plants without tolerance. This makes the HARDY system even more promising in practical applications.

The HARDY gene encodes for a so-called transcription factor, meaning that a whole chain of genes is regulated. A plant can therefore turn an entire drought or salt tolerance mechanism on or off with a single switch. Dixit also discovered that the SHINE gene, which also encodes for a transcription factor, is capable of making rice tolerant to salt as well.

In her research, Dixit showed how a large group of plants with mutations that cause genes to be more active can be valuable for tracking genes that increase stress tolerance. Dixit selected two mutants from one of these plant groups, which after more detailed research proved to use water more efficiently and to have a tolerance for higher saline concentrations.

Dixit performed her research at Plant Research International (Wageningen UR). It was financed by the WOTRO programme of The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Jac Niessen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.wur.nl

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Researchers discover a new link to fight billion-dollar threat to soybean production
14.02.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia

nachricht Important to maintain a diversity of habitats in the sea
14.02.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>