Rice is one of the most important targets for plant breeders to secure
enough food for a growing population. Producing nutrient efficient crops has
become essential to secure enough food as well as to eliminate environmental
consequences of using fertilizers. The team of Nahed Mohammed from the
University of York in the UK aims to explore the genetic diversity of rice
to identify genotypes with high efficiency under Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus
(P), and Potassium (K) deficient conditions.
The team wants to identify loci linked to NPK use efficiency using Genome
Wide Association Studies (GWAS). Lastly, the team aimed to manipulate a
proton pump using the CRISPR-Cas9 system to improve mycorrhiza-dependent
nutrient uptake. Analyses of the 294 rice genotypes identified a set of
genotypes as relatively tolerant to NPK nutrient limitation.
The GWAS study revealed new and previously known QTLs and genes related to
NPK efficiency. Several genes involved in sodium transport were also
identified as candidates. The team was also successful in using the
CRISPR-Cas9 system to manipulate several candidate genes identified from
GWAS, in addition to the rice H+-ATPase (OsHA1).
The results of the study can be used as a basis to conduct similar studies
in other crops, which can contribute to food security.