Newly identified genes may help protect crops from floods, researchers say

Newswise – Flooding is a global risk, according to world bank, threatening the lives and property of billions of people. More people are at risk of starvation as an indirect effect of floods: the water can inundate crops. Now, researchers are getting closer to identifying the molecular processes behind how floods deprive plants of oxygen — and how to engineer tougher crops.

Through a meta-analysis, which involves reanalyzing data from other studies en masse, a team from the Graduate School of Integrated Life Sciences at Hiroshima University has discovered several common genes and their associated mechanisms in rice. (Asian rice) And love the guidance (Arabidopsis thaliana).

They published their results on July 19 in life.

“Hypoxia is an abiotic stress for plants often caused by floods,” said first author Keita Tamura, referring to oxygen deprivation caused by excessive saturation. “Although many studies have been conducted previously, we believed that hidden biological mechanisms could be found by analyzing multiple studies through a meta-analysis of publicly available data.”

The team focused on rice and cress since the genetics of both have been extensively studied, providing copious amounts of data. Rice is also one of the world’s most important crops, serving as a staple food for more than four billion people, according to Consultative Group on International Agricultural ResearchTamura said understanding how to prevent the plant’s hypoxia response is critical.

The researchers identified 29 pairs of cress RNA sequencing data and 26 pairs of rice for plants in both normal and oxygen-deprived states from the available data sets. RNA sequencing involves transcribing a subject’s genetic blueprints at a specific moment, which means the data can be used to investigate which genes caused any changes, according to the corresponding author, Professor. Hidemasa Bono.

“By analyzing RNA sequencing data for hypoxia treatments in cress and rice, we identified 40 and 19 genes that are commonly upregulated and regulated in both species,” Bono said. “Among them, some of the transcription factors WRKY and cinnamate-4-hydroxylase, whose role in response to hypoxia is still unknown, were commonly upregulated in both garden cress and rice.”

According to Bono, this co-regulation means that these molecular mechanisms become more active under oxygen deprivation, suggesting that they have specific mechanistic responsibilities for how plants respond.

Bono and Tamura compared their results to a similar meta-analysis of hypoxia in human cell and tissue samples. They found that two genes commonly upregulated in rice and garden cress were downregulated in their human counterparts.

“Our meta-analysis indicates distinct molecular mechanisms under the influence of hypoxia in plants and animals,” Bono said. “The candidate genes identified in this study are expected to elucidate new molecular mechanisms of hypoxia responses in plants. Ultimately, we plan to manipulate one of the candidate genes through genome editing technology to create flood-tolerant plants.”


The Innovation Center for Bio-Digital Transformation, the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s open platform to facilitate collaboration between industry and academia, funded this research.

About Hiroshima University

Since its founding in 1949, Hiroshima University has striven to become one of the most prominent and comprehensive universities in Japan in order to promote and develop scholarships and education. Consisting of 12 undergraduate level schools and 4 graduate colleges, ranging from natural sciences to humanities and social sciences, the university has grown into one of the most distinguished comprehensive research universities in Japan.
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