Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In triplicate, genes make maize tolerant to toxic soil

Date:
March 20, 2013
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Rendering some of the world’s toxic soils far less unfriendly, researchers are learning to grow stress-tolerant crops on formerly non-farmable land.

This image shows aluminum-tolerant corn on the left and aluminum-sensitive corn on the right in test plots in highly acidic soil in Brazil.
Credit: Image courtesy of Cornell University

Rendering some of the world's toxic soils far less unfriendly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research and Cornell researchers are learning to grow stress-tolerant crops on formerly non-farmable land.

In this effort, when plant scientists searched the maize genome for clues as to why some plants can tolerate toxic aluminum in soil, they found three copies of the same gene known to affect aluminum tolerance, according to new USDA/Cornell-led research.

Aluminum toxicity comes close to rivaling drought as a food-security threat in critical tropical food-producing regions.

Acidic soils dissolve aluminum from clays in the soil, making it toxic to plant roots in half the world's arable lands. The MATE1 gene, which was found in triplicate in aluminum-tolerant maize, turns on in the presence of aluminum ions and expresses a protein that transports citric acid from root tips into the soil, which binds to and locks up aluminum, thereby preventing it from harming roots.

"We found three functional copies that were identical," said senior author Leon Kochian, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- Agriculture Research Service Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory at Cornell. "This is one of the first examples of copy number variation contributing to an agronomically important trait."

He added that the extra gene copies had a cumulative effect of coding for more protein that transports aluminum-binding citric acid into the soil.

The study, "Aluminum tolerance in maize is associated with higher MATE1 gene copy number," appeared online March 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The finding points to the importance of looking for multiple copies of a gene for higher expression of certain traits. "This could be a key factor for other traits of agricultural importance," said Kochian.

The research came out of a long collaboration on aluminum tolerance with Embrapa Maize and Sorghum in Brazil, which provided the aluminum-tolerant maize germplasm where the 3-copy allele was discovered. Lead author Lyza Maron, a senior research associate at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell, also collaborated with researchers at the University of Florida, Gainesville, the University of Missouri, Arizona Genomics Institute and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to verify the finding. By sequencing the genomic regions that harbor the MATE1 gene in aluminum-tolerant and aluminum-sensitive plants, she found a similar MATE1 allele (version of a gene) in both types of plants. But when she examined copy number variation, she found the aluminum-tolerant plant had three copies, while the intolerant plant had only one copy of the MATE1 allele.

"Copy number variation is well documented in the human genome," Kochian said, "and maize does a lot of this, so there are probably many examples."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. The original article was written by Krishna Ramanujan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. G. Maron, C. T. Guimaraes, M. Kirst, P. S. Albert, J. A. Birchler, P. J. Bradbury, E. S. Buckler, A. E. Coluccio, T. V. Danilova, D. Kudrna, J. V. Magalhaes, M. A. Pineros, M. C. Schatz, R. A. Wing, L. V. Kochian. Aluminum tolerance in maize is associated with higher MATE1 gene copy number. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1220766110

Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "In triplicate, genes make maize tolerant to toxic soil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320133320.htm>.
Cornell University. (2013, March 20). In triplicate, genes make maize tolerant to toxic soil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320133320.htm
Cornell University. "In triplicate, genes make maize tolerant to toxic soil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320133320.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins