Flood, drought and disease tolerant – one gene to rule them all

Last updated: 13 Mar, 2018

An international collaboration between researchers at the University of CopenhagenNagoya University and the University of Western Australia has resulted in a breakthrough in plant biology. Since 2014, the researchers have worked on identifying the genetic background for the improved flood tolerance observed in rice, wheat and several natural wetland plants. In a New Phytologist paper, the researchers describe the discovery of a single gene that controls the surface properties of rice, rendering the leaves superhydrophobic.



The gene is called LGF1. It controls the nano-structure of leaf surfaces. During flood events, the gene enables survival of submerged rice since the wax nano-structures retain a thin Leaf Gas Film; hence the name of the gene, LGF1.


Superhydrophobic surfaces retain a thin gas film when under water, and the gas film enables the stomata to function during submergence. The stomata regulate the uptake of CO2 (carbon dioxide) for photosynthesis during the day, but also the uptake of O2 (oxygen) during darkness, enabling aerobic respiration. Without the protective layer of gas, the floodwater blocks the stomata and the gas exchange with the environment is greatly restricted; the plants are virtually drowning!


Continue reading on the New Phyt blog.


Read the paper: Kurokawa, Y., Nagai, K., Huan, P. D., et al. (2018) Rice leaf hydrophobicity and gas films are conferred by a wax synthesis gene (LGF1) and contribute to flood toleranceNew Phytologist. doi: 10.1111/nph.15070