Researchers Provide Genetic Explanations for Shade-Induced Biomass Allocation in Wheat

Feb 12, 2024

Practices such as tillage, fertilizing the soil, and regulating the water supply can reduce competition for water and nutrients, but they amplify competition for light. "These observations suggest that studying the genetic basis of plant responses to changes in the intensity and spectrum of light due to competition from neighboring plants will advance our understanding of adaptation to the crop environment," says Dr. Guy Golan, first author of a new study published in the journal New Phytologist

In their study, the research team applied a new approach that combines principles from  and quantitative genetics for dissecting light-dependent and size-dependent allocation and identifying genes that regulate allocation to the leaves, stems, spikes, and grains when plants are shaded by neighbors.

One stimulating example comes from the known 'Green Revolution' gene Reduced Height-B1, which has two gene forms. On the one hand, the wild version leads plants to put much of their resources into growing tall stems. When these plants are in the shade, they grow even taller to compete for more sunlight. On the other hand, plants with the 'Green Revolution' mutation allocate more resources to the spike, especially in shady conditions, making them more adaptable to low light.

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