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Rice plants overexpressing OsEPF1 show reduced stomatal density and increased root cortical aerenchyma formation

Mohammed, U.; Caine, R. S.; Atkinson, J. A.; Harrison, E. L.; Wells, D.; Chater, C. C.; Gray, J. E.; Swarup, R.; Murchie, E. H.


U. Mohammed

R. S. Caine

J. A. Atkinson

E. L. Harrison

Principal Research Fellow

C. C. Chater

J. E. Gray

Professor of Applied Plant Physiology


Stomata are adjustable pores in the aerial epidermis of plants. The role of stomata is usually described in terms of the trade-off between CO2 uptake and water loss. Little consideration has been given to their interaction with below-ground development or diffusion of other gases. We overexpressed the rice EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR1 (OsEPF1) to produce rice plants with reduced stomatal densities, resulting in lowered leaf stomatal conductance and enhanced water use efficiency. Surprisingly, we found that root cortical aerenchyma (RCA) is formed constitutively in OsEPF1OE lines regardless of tissue age and position. Aerenchyma is tissue containing air-spaces that can develop in the plant root during stressful conditions, e.g. oxygen deficiency when it functions to increase O2 diffusion from shoot to root. The relationship with stomata is unknown. We conclude that RCA development and stomatal development are linked by two possible mechanisms: first that reduced stomatal conductance inhibits the diffusion of oxygen to the root, creating an oxygen deficit and stimulating the formation of RCA, second that an unknown EPF signalling pathway may be involved. Our observations have fundamental implications for the understanding of whole plant gas diffusion and root-to-shoot signalling events.


Mohammed, U., Caine, R. S., Atkinson, J. A., Harrison, E. L., Wells, D., Chater, C. C., …Murchie, E. H. (2019). Rice plants overexpressing OsEPF1 show reduced stomatal density and increased root cortical aerenchyma formation. Scientific Reports, 9(1), Article 5584.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 19, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 3, 2019
Publication Date Apr 3, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 29, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 3, 2019
Journal Scientific Reports
Print ISSN 2045-2322
Electronic ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Article Number 5584
Keywords Multidisciplinary
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 28 June 2018; Accepted: 19 March 2019; First Online: 3 April 2019; : The authors declare no competing interests.


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