Optimization of rice for the climate change challenge hos Københavns Universitet

Rice is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production (rice, 741.5 million tonnes in 2014). As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia and Africa. However, climate change possess a threat to maintain the current levels of rice production and ensure sufficient food supplies for an increasing world population. Our group is working in a collaboration project with China aiming at improving the survival and productivity of rice under heat stress, a process in which lipid flippases are essential. Flippases are active lipid transporters that affect membrane properties and vesicular trafficking. The useful unit iscomposed of two transmembrane proteins (an alpha and a beta subunit). We have already identified candidate flippases that affect rice fitness under hot weather conditions. The objective of this project is to characterize the transporters to understand the mechanisms underlying heat tolerance.

Some of the possible approaches are:

  • In vivo lipid transport analysis in yeast using different combinations of alpha and beta subunits
  • Establishing a protocol for lipid transport analysis in rice plantlets
  • Optimization of a protocol for transformation of rice protoplasts
  • Subcellular localization of flippase complexes using transient expression in tobacco or rice
  • Purification of the flippase complexes after overexpression in yeast followed by relevant assays in vitro (oligomeric state, ATPase activity, quenching assays)

The project will be embedded within the NovoCrops Challenge project financed by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The work will be carried out in the Section for Transport Biology, Department for Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science at Copenhagen University, under the supervision of Associate Professor Rosa L. Lopez-Marques (rlo@plen.ku.dk).

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