Monday, 25 July 2022
Scientists have discovered how to potentially design root systems to grow deeper by altering their angle growth to be steeper and reach the nutrients they need to grow, a discovery that could also help develop new ways to capture carbon in soil.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham and Bologna have discovered a key gene in barley and wheat that controls the angle of root growth. Steeper root angle helps bury carbon deeper in soil as well as improving resilience in crops to drought stress. Their findings have been published today in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Nottingham team have discovered how a new gene (called Enhanced Gravitropism 1 or EGT1) normally controls root angle by stiffening the core of growing root tips, making it more difficult to bend downwards. However, after this gene is disrupted, the team used X-ray micro CT imaging to reveal that every different type of root has a steeper angle.
Root angle controls how efficiently plants can capture water and nutrients. For instance, shallow roots best capture phosphate which accumulates in the top-soil region, while steeper roots are better for foraging for water and nitrate in deeper soil layers. Steeper roots are also important for helping bury carbon deeper into soil. Discovering genes like EGT1 and how they control root angle is critical for developing novel future crop varieties better able to capture nutrients and carbon.
The international team includes researchers from the University of Adelaide, University of Bologna and Penn State University. The Nottingham team was funded by ARPA-E, BBSRC Discovery Fellowship, European Research Council, Royal Society and University of Nottingham Future Food Beacon awards.
More information is available from Rahul Bhosale on firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
The University of Nottingham
Ranked 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2023, University of Nottingham is a founding member of Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.
The University is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.The University is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.
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