Finding Rice Stress Response Genes to Improve Bioenergy Crops


Production of fuels from dedicated perennial grass crops has the potential to decrease dependence on oil imports and release of climate-changing, greenhouse gasses. However, dedicated biofuel crops will need to be grown on large scales on marginal land over many years. Thus it will be necessary to utilize genetically improved varieties that can withstand diverse environmental stresses, such as salinity, flooding and drought, which are major constraints to crop production in many areas of the world. Researchers at the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have now developed a gene expression profiling approach to identify novel genes that confer tolerance to flooding stress in rice. Rice is used as a model for studies of perennial grasses such as switchgrass, one of the most promising of the grasses for large-scale production of biofuels. A set of 12 genes was identified that are regulated by a single gene that has an effect on several flooding response pathways. These genes can be classified into three functional groups each involved in a different metabolic response to stress. The research is published in the current issue of Plant Physiology.


Jung K-H, Seo Y-S, Walia H, Cao P, Fukao T, Canlas PE, Amonpant F, Bailey-Serres J, and Ronald PC. 2010. “The Submergence Tolerance Regulator Sub1A Mediates Stress-responsive Expression of AP2/ERF Transcription Factors,” Plant Physiol January 27, 2010; 10.1104/pp.109.152157.