A way to make Flooding Resistant Barley Discovered


flooding resistant barley

Researchers have found a way to make “water resistant” crops! In a new study researchers have discovered a pathway making flooding resistant barley, reducing crop loss due to waterlogging.

Changing genes of crops to get a new abilities or resistances isn’t a new concept. The so-called GMO crops have stirred up irrational fear across the globe for decades. What people fail to realize is that we have modified crops for many thousands of years by selecting which seeds to plant. The only difference now is more advanced tools at our disposal. New research from the University of Nottingham discover how to make barley flooding resistant by identifying a pathway used by plants in low oxygen environments.

Flooding Resistant Barley

The findings were published in Plant Biotechnology Journal .

When plants are flooded they lose their ability to breathe, just like people. This state of low oxygen will eventually kill the plant, drowning it. In plants there are a chemical pathway that senses low oxygen and respond by changing gene expression to prevent damage. This pathway regulating “plant stress” was identified by professor Michael Holdsworth in October 2011.

Professor Holdsworth’s research group have now identified this pathway in barley. They found that reducing expression of barley N-recognin E3 ligase HvPRT6 gene makes plants more tolerant to low oxygen environments caused by flooding. A strain of barley with lower expression of this gene means you can have large yields of the crop even if conditions are poor.

“Barley cultivars with the capability to withstand waterlogging have excellent growth, superior yields, retain their green appearance due to chlorophyll retention and have a more efficient metabolism even in low oxygen conditions.” Professor Holdsworth

Barley is more sensitive to flooding than other crops, a season of bad weather can actually reduce crop yields by up to 50%. This discovery means it’s possible to make a strain of flooding resistant barley so we can get our breakfast cereal and beer even if a farming season has bad weather.

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