April 25, 2013

Rising rice roots

IST Austria scientists contribute to analytic tool for the growth of rice roots

IST Professor Edelsbrunner © by club research/APA-Fotoservice/Pauty
Professor Edelsbrunner. © by club research/APA-Fotoservice/Pauty

A team of scientists including Herbert Edelsbrunner, Professor at IST Austria, and his postdoc Olga Symonova, have identified genes that control the architecture of root systems in rice. In their paper, published in the March 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1304354110), they describe a new method, for which Herbert Edelsbrunner and Olga Symonova contributed new analytic tools. The genetic factors influencing root growth are little understood as the complex shape of roots, the opacity of soil and environmental influences confound root analysis. With their 3D root imagining and analysis, the researchers were able to identify regions of the rice genome that are in control of different aspects of root growth.  This new platform may lead to the identification of genes with the potential to alter root traits, which may also improve the efficiency of root systems resulting in better crop yields, a reduction in required chemical inputs and the ability to grow in harsh environments. 



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