Login

GPC Members Login
If you have any problems or have forgotten your login please contact [email protected]


In Nature Plants: A step forward to making crops drought tolerant

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers are part of an international consortium of researchers whose work hopes to future-proof crops against the impacts of global climate change.

The researchers have sequenced the genome of the 'resurrection plant' Xerophyta viscosa, revealing a genetic 'footprint' of the plant's ability to tolerate severe drought for long periods of time.

The research team is led by Henk Hilhorst of Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands and includes QUT researchers Professor Sagadevan Mundree and Dr Brett Williams as well as other researchers from the Netherlands, South-Africa and the USA.

The team hopes their results will contribute to the faster development of food crops that are resilient enough to cope with foreseen global climate changes.

The team's DNA sequence of the resurrection plant is published in Nature Plants.

The consortium chose to study the plant, which is native to southern Africa, because of its amazing capability to survive complete drying.

Research leader Henk Hilhorst said food crops that can survive extreme drought are, and will be, of increasing importance.

"Climate change causes longer and extremer periods of drought, while at the same time the growing world population demands a dramatic increase of food production," he said.

"Resurrection species like Xerophyta viscosa may serve as ideal models for the ultimate design of crops with enhanced drought tolerance."

The team studied changes in gene expression patterns during dehydration, in order to find genes which enable the plant to survive desiccation.

QUT Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities director, Professor Sagadevan Mundree, said his team's work, which revealed how a native Australian grass could be brought back from the 'dead', made QUT researchers ideal partners for this project.

"During periods of extreme dryness the Australian grass Tripogon loliiformis goes through a similar process of dessication in which autophagy is triggered, a process by which the plant degrades and recycles its own contents.

"The plant constantly removes damaged proteins and toxins while recycling nutrients and this prevents the plant leaf tissue from dying," Professor Mundree said.

Dr Williams said the South African plant behaved in a similar manner to other resurrection plants in that its leaves and other vegetative tissue resemble desiccation tolerant seeds when dried. He said that resurrection plants may gain their fascinating tolerance in shoots by using genes commonly expressed in desiccation tolerant seeds.

Dr Williams said the new research would open up areas of exploration in describing how plants survive drying and possibly long-term storage of seeds.

Read the paper: A footprint of desiccation tolerance in the genome of Xerophyta viscosa.

Article source: QUT.

Image credit: QUT

News

New 'Buck' naked barley: Food, feed, brew

Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) are giving an ancient grain a new life: this barley is naked, but not in an indecent way.


Clean and green: A moss that removes lead (Pb) from water

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) in Japan have demonstrated that that moss can be a green alternative for decontaminating polluted water and soil. Published in PLOS One, the study shows that in particular, the moss Funaria hygrometrica tolerates and absorbs an impressive amount of lead (Pb) from water.


New study shows producers where and how to grow cellulosic biofuel crops

According to a recent ruling by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel must be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply in 2018. Although this figure is down slightly from last year, the industry is still growing at a modest pace. However, until now, producers have had to rely on incomplete information and unrealistic, small-scale studies in guiding their decisions about which feedstocks to grow, and where. A new multi-institution report provides practical agronomic data for five cellulosic feedstocks, which could improve adoption and increase production across the country.