A revolutionary approach to increasing crop yield in rice

February 03, 2021

A group of scientists led by Drs Toshinori Kinoshita and Maoxing Zhang (Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules,Nagoya University, Japan) and Dr Yiyong Zhu (Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center for Solid Organic Waste Utilization, Nanjing Agricultural University, China) have developed a method which, by increasing the number of a plasma membrane proton pump gene in rice, simultaneously increases nutrient uptake through the roots and stomatal opening, thus increasing the yield of paddy field grown rice by over 30%.

In their previous research, the group had found that the plasma membrane proton pump played an important role in influencing stomatal opening. When they created a variant of rice with an overexpression of a particular plasma membrane proton pump gene, they found that nutrient uptake through the roots increased by over 20%, and photosynthesis by over 20%. Growth experiments at four separate rice farms with different growth conditions showed an increase in overall rice yield of over 30%. The success of this research is a groundbreaking achievement, with its simultaneous effect upon nutrient uptake and stomatal opening, and is expected to see a variety of practical uses in the future.

As they take in mineral nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium through their roots, plants simultaneously absorb carbon dioxide through the stomata on their leaves, and grow through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis enables not only the farming of plants for food, but the exchange of carbon dioxide and management of the earth's environment. CO2 intake in plants occurs exclusively through the stomata, which are holes on the surface of the leaves. Thus, if it were possible to open the stomata wider, increase the nutrient uptake through the roots, and thus increase the rate of photosynthesis, not only would it be possible to speed up growth and increase yield of plants, but also to reduce CO2 levels and the use of fertilizers.

With that in mind, in this study, they created a variant of the rice plant with an increased expression of the plasma membrane proton pump gene OSA1 and carried out an analysis of its phenotype. They found that the proton pump overexpressed rice, when compared to a wild strain, took up over 20% more mineral nutrients, and opened its stomata over 25% wider when exposed to light (Figure 2). On further analysis, they found that its carbon dioxide storage capacity (the indicator of photosynthesis activity) was increased by over 25%, and that its dry weight (biomass) increased by 18-33% in hydroponic laboratory growth.

With this determined, the researchers set out to find if the results could be replicated under realistic growing conditions. They conducted yield measurement exercises at four separate rice farms over the course of two years, finding that the rice with the overexpressed OSA1 gene had a yield over 30% higher than that of the wild strain. Even more interestingly, they discovered that even if the level of nitrogen fertilizer was reduced by half, it still produced a greater yield than the wild strain did with normal levels of nitrogen.

The success of this revolutionary piece of research points to a future in which food supply and CO2 overproduction issues can be solved through use of these proton pump gene overexpression plants. While these early stage models have been created through genetic modification, it is anticipated that future generations not reliant on GM but instead using genome editing or chemical engineering will be realized.
-end-


Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM), Nagoya University

Related Photosynthesis Articles from Brightsurf:

During COVID, scientists turn to computers to understand C4 photosynthesis
When COVID closed down their lab, a team from the University of Essex turned to computational approaches to understand what makes some plants better adapted to transform light and carbon dioxide into yield through photosynthesis.

E. coli bacteria offer path to improving photosynthesis
Cornell University scientists have engineered a key plant enzyme and introduced it in Escherichia coli bacteria in order to create an optimal experimental environment for studying how to speed up photosynthesis, a holy grail for improving crop yields.

Showtime for photosynthesis
Using a unique combination of nanoscale imaging and chemical analysis, an international team of researchers has revealed a key step in the molecular mechanism behind the water splitting reaction of photosynthesis, a finding that could help inform the design of renewable energy technology.

Photosynthesis in a droplet
Researchers develop an artificial chloroplast.

Even bacteria need their space: Squished cells may shut down photosynthesis
Introverts take heart: When cells, like some people, get too squished, they can go into defense mode, even shutting down photosynthesis.

Marine cyanobacteria do not survive solely on photosynthesis
The University of Cordoba published a study in a journal from the Nature group that supports the idea that marine cyanobacteria also incorporate organic compounds from the environment.

Photosynthesis -- living laboratories
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich biologists Marcel Dann and Dario Leister have demonstrated for the first time that cyanobacteria and plants employ similar mechanisms and key proteins to regulate cyclic electron flow during photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis seen in a new light by rapid X-ray pulses
In a new study, led by Petra Fromme and Nadia Zatsepin at the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery, the School of Molecular Sciences and the Department of Physics at ASU, researchers investigated the structure of Photosystem I (PSI) with ultrashort X-ray pulses at the European X-ray Free Electron Laser (EuXFEL), located in Hamburg, Germany.

Photosynthesis olympics: can the best wheat varieties be even better?
Scientists have put elite wheat varieties through a sort of 'Photosynthesis Olympics' to find which varieties have the best performing photosynthesis.

Strange bacteria hint at ancient origin of photosynthesis
Structures inside rare bacteria are similar to those that power photosynthesis in plants today, suggesting the process is older than assumed.

Read More: Photosynthesis News and Photosynthesis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.