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HARDY rice: less water, more food
Date:9/10/2007

t as a graduate student jointly at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, and at Plant Research International, Wageningen, The Netherlands, commented: The next step was to introduce the HARDY gene into rice and examine the features arising from this transformation. In rice, HARDY seems to work in a slightly different way than Arabidopsis but it still leads to improved water-use efficiency and higher biomass. Further studies showed that HARDY significantly enhances the capacity of rice to photosynthesize while at the same time reducing water loss from the crop.

Dr. Andy Pereira, added: DNA microarray analysis allowed us to look at gene expression patterns regulated by HARDY. We specifically focused on genes that have gene ontology (GO) terms, namely genes that have been assigned by the scientific community to specific biological processes or functions. Using this approach we were able to identify clusters of known genes regulated by HARDY whose levels changed under conditions of plant water deprivation. We also saw distinct changes of gene clusters linked to the metabolism of key proteins and carbohydrates, which probably explains some of the feature differences we have detected in Arabidopsis and rice.

The scientists have been able to track down these improvements in water-use efficiency to a specific type of molecule known as AP2/ERF-like transcription factor. Transcription factors are proteins that bind to DNA and control gene expression and the HARDY gene encodes a protein that belongs to a specific class of AP2/ERF-like transcription factors. Shital Dixit, Graduate student at Plant Research International, Wageningen, The Netherlands, commented: At this point in time, we do not know the exact function of this transcription factor although we suspect that it impacts maturation processes linked to tissue desiccation. More work remains to be done to elucidate the precise function of this protein as well as the processes on w
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Contact: Barry Whyte
whyte@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-1767
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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