A new drought-resistant and water-saving wheat plant

February 9, 2019

Promise for increased production and stable supply in arid regions

A collaborative research group made up of researchers from Utsunomiya University, Tottori University, NARO, RIKEN CSRS and other institutes have developed TaPYLox, a water-saving, drought-resistant wheat. TaPYLox plants have many abscisic acid (ABA) receptors, which help the plants to suppress water consumption while realizing grain production. .

To evaluate TaPYLox’s drought tolerance, the plants were grown in a water-deficient state and exhibited the expected drought tolerance, which was the result of suppressed leaf transpiration. Although TaPYLox photosynthesis was no different from normal wheat, its photosynthetic efficiency in terms of water production had increased by a surprising 15 percent. In other words, results clearly showed that TaPYLox performs high-efficiency photosynthesis with less water consumption.

In terms of seed production, TaPYLox suppressed water production but also provided seed yields and seed components at the same level of regular wheat. Stated as production per liter of water consumption, there was a 35 percent increase in seeds produced.

Additionally, when TaPYLox was grown in water-deficit conditions that would result in abnormalities for regular wheat plants, it produced seeds without withering, even during the seed development phase. TaPYLox produced the same seed yields while maintaining seed shape and seed components as with well-watered conditions.

These findings indicate that TaPYLox can maintain seed production and seed quality in drought or water-restricted conditions by successfully conserving its water consumption, resulting in water-saving, drought-resistant abilities.

These findings are expected to contribute to food production in low-precipitation, arid areas where food production is difficult, or in areas where droughts frequently occur.


Original article
Nature Plants doi:10.1038/s41477-019-0361-8
R. Mega, F. Abe, J.-S. Kim, Y. Tsuboi, K. Tanaka, H. Kobayashi, Y. Sakata, K. Hanada, H. Tsujimoto, J. Kikuchi, S. R. Cutler, M. Okamoto,
"Tuning water-use efficiency and drought tolerance in wheat using abscisic acid receptors".

Jun Kikuchi
Team Leader
Environmental Metabolic Analysis Research Team