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Newly Discovered Trait Helps Plants Grow Deeper Roots in Dry, Compacted Soils

Newly Discovered Trait Helps Plants Grow Deeper Roots in Dry, Compacted Soils

Roots with the MCS genotype have a greater concentration of lignin — an organic polymer that lends rigidity. Image courtesy of Hannah Schneider/Penn State
Image courtesy of Hannah Schneider/Penn State.

A previously unknown root trait allows some cereal plants to grow deeper roots capable of punching through dry, hard, compacted soils, according to Penn State University researchers, who suggest that harnessing the inherited characteristic could lead to crops better able to deal with a changing climate.

"This discovery bodes well for American and global agriculture because the trait helps corn, wheat and barley grow deeper roots, which is important for drought tolerance, nitrogen efficiency and carbon sequestration," said Jonathan Lynch, distinguished professor in plant science. "Breeding for this trait should be helpful in developing new crops for climate mitigation." For more information, read the Penn State news article.

The U.S. Dept of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Consortium's Crops of the Future Collaborative and its Crops in Silico program funded this project.


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