2010 | Achievement and Award
A new approach for promotion of plant fertility and maintenance of crop yields under global warming conditions. Auxins reverse plant male sterility caused by high temperatures
Plant reproduction processes are threatened by high temperature (HT) injury caused by recent global warming. Lobell and Field have reported that, at least in the cases of wheat, maize and barley, there is clearly a negative correlation between worldwide crop yields and increased temperatures, and for these crops, recent warming has resulted in an annual combined loss of approximately 40 megatons or $5 billion (Environ Res Lett, 2007 2: 014002). In wheat, barley and various other commercially-important crops, the early phase of anther development is especially susceptible to high temperatures. Activation of auxin biosynthesis with increased temperatures has been reported in certain plant tissues. In contrast, we here found that under high temperature conditions, endogenous auxin levels specifically decreased in the developing anthers of barley and Arabidopsis. In addition, expression of the YUCCA auxin biosynthesis genes was repressed by increasing temperatures. Application of auxin completely reversed male sterility in both plant species. These findings suggest that tissue-specific auxin reduction is the primary cause of high temperature injury, which leads to the abortion of pollen development. Thus, the application of auxin may help sustain steady yields of crops despite future climate change.
The research has been performed with lots of members including T. Sakata, T. Oshino, M. Abiko, S. Miura and M. Tamabechi, postgraduates in my laboratory of Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University spending about a decade. The result has been published online in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America as Early Edition (EE) (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/recent) on April 26, 2010. The paper’s title is “Auxins reverse plant male sterility caused by high temperatures.” The group has filled an international patent PCT/JP2010/50101.
Professor Atsushi Higashitani
Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University
TEL: +81-22-217-5715, 5745
E-mail: ahigashi*ige.tohoku.ac.jp (Replace * with @)