Root angle modifications by the DRO1 homolog improve rice yields in saline paddy fields

Yuka Kitomi, Eiko Hanzawa, Noriyuki Kuya, Haruhiko Inoue, Naho Hara, Sawako Kawai, Noriko Kanno, Masaki Endo, Kazuhiko Sugimoto, Toshimasa Yamazaki, Shingo Sakamoto, Naoki Sentoku, Jianzhong Wu, Hitoshi Kanno, Nobutaka Mitsuda, Kinya Toriyama, Tadashi Sato, Yusaku Uga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


The root system architecture (RSA) of crops can affect their production, particularly in abiotic stress conditions, such as with drought, waterlogging, and salinity. Salinity is a growing problem worldwide that negatively impacts on crop productivity, and it is believed that yields could be improved if RSAs that enabled plants to avoid saline conditions were identified. Here, we have demonstrated, through the cloning and characterization of qSOR1 (quantitative trait locus for SOIL SURFACE ROOTING 1), that a shallower root growth angle (RGA) could enhance rice yields in saline paddies. qSOR1 is negatively regulated by auxin, predominantly expressed in root columella cells, and involved in the gravitropic responses of roots. qSOR1 was found to be a homolog of DRO1 (DEEPER ROOTING 1), which is known to control RGA. CRISPR-Cas9 assays revealed that other DRO1 homologs were also involved in RGA. Introgression lines with combinations of gain-of-function and loss-of-function alleles in qSOR1 and DRO1 demonstrated four different RSAs (ultra-shallow, shallow, intermediate, and deep rooting), suggesting that natural alleles of the DRO1 homologs could be utilized to control RSA variations in rice. In saline paddies, near-isogenic lines carrying the qSOR1 loss-of-function allele had soil-surface roots (SOR) that enabled rice to avoid the reducing stresses of saline soils, resulting in increased yields compared to the parental cultivars without SOR. Our findings suggest that DRO1 homologs are valuable targets for RSA breeding and could lead to improved rice production in environments characterized by abiotic stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21242-21250
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 1


  • Abiotic stress
  • Gravitropism
  • Oryza sativa L
  • Quantitative trait locus (QTL)
  • Root trait


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