Improving Rice Abiotic Stress Tolerance
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410 West Harrison St, Suite 150, Columbia, WA, 98119
AbstractAbiotic stresses such as drought, soil salinization and temperature extremes are the most important factors limiting crop yields worldwide. Impending climate change threatens to exacerbate the impact of abiotic stresses and jeopardize future food supplies. Despite intense effort, plant breeders have had difficulty in breeding for improved abiotic stress tolerance. In addition, plant biologists have only an incomplete understanding of the genes underlying crops abilities to withstand these stresses. Arcadia Biosciences has developed a TILLING population resource for rice. TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes) is a novel, non-transgenic target-selected mutation breeding method, invented by one of the principal scientists at Arcadia Biosciences, that permits the generation and identification of new alleles in genes hypothesized to underlie traits of interest. Using this rice TILLING resource, we have identified a premature stop mutation in a candidate gene whose inactivation may lead to improvement in rice abiotic stress tolerance. During Phase I research, we intend to test the hypothesis that knockout of this candidate gene leads to improvement in rice abiotic stress tolerance. If successful, this new allele will be introgressed into elite rice cultivars in phase II, with the ultimate aim of developing novel cultivars with sustained yield under stress. Finally, this research may have implications for improving abiotic stress tolerance in other monocot crops such as wheat and maize.
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