Overexpression of wheat gene TaMOR improves root system architecture and grain yield in Oryza sativa

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Abstract

Improved root architecture is an effective strategy to increase crop yield. We demonstrate that overexpression of transcription factor gene MORE ROOT (TaMOR) from wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) results in more roots and higher grain yield in rice (Oryza sativa). TaMOR, encoding a plant-specific transcription factor belonging to the ASYMMETRIC LEAVES2/LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARIES (AS2/LOB) protein family, is highly conserved in wheat and its wild relatives. In this study, tissue expression patterns indicated that TaMOR mainly localizes to root initiation sites. The consistent gene expression pattern suggests that TaMOR is involved in root initiation. Exogenous auxin treatment induced TaMOR expression without de novo protein biosynthesis. Both in vivo and in vitro experiments demonstrated that TaMOR interacts with TaMOR-related protein TaMRRP, which contains a four-tandem-pentatricopeptide repeat motif. Overexpression of TaMOR led to more lateral roots in Arabidopsis thaliana, and TaMOR-overexpressing rice plants had more crown roots, a longer main panicle, a higher number of primary branches on the main panicle, a higher grain number per plant, and higher yield per plant than the plants of wild type. In general, TaMOR-D-overexpressing lines had larger root systems in Arabidopsis and rice, and produce a higher grain yield per plant. TaMOR therefore offers an opportunity to improve root architecture and increase yield in crop plants.

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