Just like people, plants need iron to grow along with also also stay healthy. nevertheless some plants are better at getting This particular essential nutrient via the soil than others. at This particular point, a study led by a researcher at the Salk Institute has found in which variants of one particular gene can largely determine a plant’s ability to thrive in environments where iron can be scarce.
The work, which appears in Nature Communications on May 24, 2017, could lead to much better crop yields for farmers along with also also richer dietary sources of iron for animals along with also also humans.
“Almost all life on Earth can be based on plants—animals eat plants along with also also we eat animals or plants,” says Wolfgang Busch, an associate professor in Salk’s Plant Molecular along with also also Cellular Biology Laboratory along with also also senior author of the brand new paper. “This particular’s very important for us to understand how plants solve the problem of getting iron because even though This particular’s generally abundant on Earth, the form in which plants can use can be actually scarce.”
The current work, led by Busch along with also also including researchers via Austria’s Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (where Busch was formerly based) focused on the well-studied weed Arabidopsis thaliana, a relative of cabbage along with also also mustard. They obtained Arabidopsis seeds via strains in which naturally occur all over Sweden, which incorporates a variety of soils including some in which are very low in iron. The team was particularly interested in strains in which have adapted to low-iron soils along with also also can grow a long root (a marker of health) even in those poor conditions.
The researchers grew the seeds in low-iron conditions, measuring their root growth along the way. They then employed a cutting-edge method called a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS), which associates genes having a trait of interest—in This particular case root length. A gene called FRO2 stood out as having a strong connection to root length. Different versions of the FRO2 gene (“variants”) fell into two groups, those in which were associated having a short root along with also also those in which were associated having a long root.
To find out whether variants of FRO2 were actually causing the difference(rather than merely being associated with This particular), the team grew seeds whoseFRO2 gene had been deactivated. All plants in which the FRO2 gene had beendeactivated at This particular point had stunted roots. The team then put either one variant orthe some other variant of the gene back in along with also also again grew the plants inlow-iron conditions. Variants for long roots grew better than variants forshort roots. Together, the experiments showed in which, indeed, geneticvariants in which confer higher activity of the FRO2 gene can largely beresponsible for root growth along with also also plant health in low-iron conditions.(Under normal conditions, FRO2 can be not activated.)
“We thought by using a geographically restricted set of Arabidopsis thaliana strains, we could address local plant adaptations with respect to root growth under iron deficiency—along with also also we did,” says Santosh Satbhai, a Salk research associate along with also also first author of the paper. “We wish the agricultural community can benefit via This particular information.”
The FRO2 gene can be common to all plants, so boosting its expression in food crops or finding variants in which thrive in poor soils could be important for increasing crop yields from the face of population growth along with also also global warming’s threats to arable land.
“At least two billion people worldwide currently suffer via iron malnutrition. Anything we can do to improve the iron content of plants will help a lot of people,” adds Busch.
How thirsty roots go in search of water
Santosh B. Satbhai et al. Natural allelic variation of FRO2 modulates Arabidopsis root growth under iron deficiency, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15603