Optimizing Rice Stomatal Development and Physiology for Enhanced Crop Performance by Nicholas Karavolias

Nicholas Karavolias

UC Berkeley | Elizabeth & Clark Callander

Impending global food shortages and worsening climate change necessitates the development of climate-smart crops. Fine-tuning stomatal density and physiology in rice stands to enhance water-use efficiency and yield of the world’s most important crop.


Stomata, the small pores located on the epidermis of aerial plant tissues, are the primary site of gas exchange, necessary for CO2 assimilation and O2 release, and are also the major site of water losses. CRISPR/Cas9 mediated editing of genes involved in stomatal development in rice can improve water-use efficiency. Fine-tuning reductions in stomatal density may reduce water requirements without concomitant reductions in photosynthesis. Furthermore, enhancing rates of blue-light mediated physiology of rice guard cells could improve photosynthetic capacities of rice in both wild-type and low stomatal density backgrounds. As global aridification and erratic rainfalls due to climate change threaten the food system, improved water-use efficiency and overall photosynthetic capacity is essential to safeguard food security and farmer livelihoods.


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