A natural genetic variant that changes the growth angle of rice plant roots allows the plants to maintain high yield under drought conditions, reports an article published online this week in Nature Genetics. These findings may aid the development of rice lines that can better withstand drought conditions and help increase food production in drought-prone areas.
Yusaku Uga and colleagues identified and characterized a gene called DEEPER ROOTING 1 (DRO1) that allows some cultivated rice lines to have deeper roots, giving them better access to water under drought conditions. They further show that breeding DRO1 into a shallow-rooting rice line enabled these plants to avoid drought by increasing the depth of their roots, resulting in higher grain yield.
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