RESEARCHERS USE CRISPR TO IMPROVE NUTRIENT USE EFFICIENCY OF RICE
Rice is one of the most important targets for plant breeders to secure enough food for a growing population. Producing nutrient efficient crops has become essential to secure enough food as well as to eliminate environmental consequences of using fertilizers. The team of Nahed Mohammed from the University of York in the UK aims to explore the genetic diversity of rice to identify genotypes with high efficiency under Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) deficient conditions.
The team wants to identify loci linked to NPK use efficiency using Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS). Lastly, the team aimed to manipulate a proton pump using the CRISPR-Cas9 system to improve mycorrhiza-dependent nutrient uptake. Analyses of the 294 rice genotypes identified a set of genotypes as relatively tolerant to NPK nutrient limitation.
The GWAS study revealed new and previously known QTLs and genes related to NPK efficiency. Several genes involved in sodium transport were also identified as candidates. The team was also successful in using the CRISPR-Cas9 system to manipulate several candidate genes identified from GWAS, in addition to the rice H+-ATPase (OsHA1).
The results of the study can be used as a basis to conduct similar studies in other crops, which can contribute to food security.
For more information, read the article in White Rose eTheses Online.