SCIENCE PROJECT

INCREASING WHEAT DROUGHT TOLERANCE THROUGHOUT THE LIFE CYCLE THROUGH REGULATION OF PLANT GROWTH MECHANISMS

Determining how sugar and resurrection gene genetic variation could be utilised to breed for enhanced performance of wheat under drought.

PROJECT SUMMARY

START DATE:

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 17:30

PROJECT LEADER:

Drought is the factor worldwide that most limits crop production. New approaches are necessary to increase crop resilience without reducing maximum yield potential. We are considering the growth mechanisms and management of carbon budgets that regulate resilience, recovery and productivity under drought. In previous BBSRC-funded work we have discovered that trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P) can regulate both sucrose allocation and use of sucrose once allocated; T6P also prime gene expression for recovery from stress. In maize substantial yield improvements can be achieved through genetic modification (GM) of one trehalose pathway gene. Our strategy combines GM of trehalose pathway with natural variation in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) populations and the novel resurrection gene SDG8i involved in strigolactone glycosylation to improve drought tolerance during vegetative and reproductive growth in wheat. New mechanistic models, including data from RNA seq analysis, will propose a long-term strategy for productivity of wheat under drought involving knowledge exchange with CIMMYT and industry.

DETAIL

The importance of carbon budget management and growth mechanisms has been overlooked in the analysis of drought tolerance. Our related research in maize shows that substantial improvements can be obtained in the field through GM of one trehalose pathway gene. Our strategy combines GM with natural variation in the trehalose pathway and the novel resurrection gene SDG8i involved in strigolactone glycosylation to improve drought tolerance during vegetative and reproductive growth in wheat applicable to UK and to global regions where drought is prevalent. 

The project will:

  • Characterise novel wheat transgenics in trehalose pathway and SDG8i resurrection genes and controls under drought and drought recovery for impact on gene networks by RNA seq. Determine interaction between trehalose pathway and SDG8i-mediated regulation of growth and sucrose allocation mechanisms and impact on trehalose pathway gene expression. Measure growth, yield, carbon status and T6P.
  • Sample mapped CIMMYT wheat germplasm in field plots in Mexico and determine gene expression by Q-RT-PCR of trehalose pathway genes identified from RNA seq analysis in 1) and grow a subset in a controlled environment at Rothamsted for further trehalose pathway gene expression analysis during drought and drought recovery.
  • Construct mechanistic model from gene expression analysis and RNA seq for a long-term strategy for productivity of wheat under drought.
  • Deliver new technology to wheat varieties for enhanced productivity under drought involving knowledge exchange with CIMMYT and industry.

PUBLICATIONS

COLLABORATORS

CIMMYT, Mexico

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