Fight climate change with plant gene
The genetic and molecular mechanisms that govern which parts of the soil roots
explore remain largely unknown. Now, researchers at Salk Institute for
Biological Studies, California, have discovered a gene that determines whether
roots grow deep or shallow in the soil.
The findings, published in Cell, will also allow researchers to develop plants that can help combat climate change as part of Salk's Harnessing Plants Initiative. The initiative aims to grow plants with more robust and deeper roots that can store increased amounts of carbon underground for longer to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The researchers used the model plant ‘thale cress’ (Arabidopsis thaliana) to identify genes and found that one gene, called EXOCYST70A3, directly regulates root system architecture by controlling the auxin pathway without disrupting other pathways by affecting the distribution of PIN4, a protein known to influence auxin transport. When the researchers altered the EXOCYST70A3 gene, they found that the orientation of the root system shifted and more roots grew deeper into the soil.