Discovery of a gene in rice that promotes a deeper root system
An international team led by the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS) in Japan, has discovered the DRO1 gene that makes the roots of rice plants grow downward instead of outward. This allows the plants to reach water held deeper in the soil. Plants with DRO1 can continue to grow and produce grain even under extreme water stress. The researchers also found that the DRO1 gene appears to change only the angle of root growth and slightly increase the length of the root tips, rather than the overall root density, meaning that energy is not diverted away from the production of grain.