Universiteit Utrecht

09/19/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/19/2019 15:12

Plant response to survive flooding still present in crops

The team looked at the way that DNA instructs a cell to create a submergence response in a level of unprecedented detail. 'In our work we looked at the genes in root tips, the first responders to overabundance of water. We employed novel tools to paint an intricate picture of what happens to gene expression, to understand whether and how their genes were activated when covered with water or deprived of oxygen', says shared first author Kaisa Kajala from Plant Ecophysiology group at Utrecht University.

Tomato research

'We discovered that the core submergence response is conserved from flooding tolerant rice to a dryland adapted wild tomato', says Kajala, who took the tomato research for her account. 'Rice puts up the strongest response, leading to flooding resilience. We found clues for how the rice employs this regulatory network to put up the such a strong response.'

This is the first time that a flooding response has been looked at in a way that was this comprehensive, across evolutionarily different species. 'We hope to take advantage of what we learned about rice in order to help activate the genes in other plants that could help them survive waterlogging', said study lead Julia Bailey-Serres, professor with a special appointment in the Plant Ecophysiology group.


Evolutionary flexibility in flooding response circuitry in angiosperms.Science, 20 september. Mauricio A. Reynoso, Kaisa Kajala*, Marko Bajic, Donnelly A. West, Germain Pauluzzi1, Andrew I. Yao, Kathryn Hatch, Kristina Zumstein, Margaret Woodhouse, Joel Rodriguez-Medina, Neelima Sinha, Siobhan M. Brady, Roger B. Deal, Julia Bailey-Serres* DOI: 10.1126/science.aax8862

* authors that are affilated with Utrecht University