Letter

Nature 460, 1026-1030 (20 August 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08258; Received 23 April 2009; Accepted 30 June 2009

The ethylene response factors SNORKEL1 and SNORKEL2 allow rice to adapt to deep water

Yoko Hattori1, Keisuke Nagai1, Shizuka Furukawa1, Xian-Jun Song1, Ritsuko Kawano3, Hitoshi Sakakibara4, Jianzhong Wu5, Takashi Matsumoto5, Atsushi Yoshimura3, Hidemi Kitano1, Makoto Matsuoka1, Hitoshi Mori2 & Motoyuki Ashikari1

  1. Bioscience and Biotechnology Center,
  2. Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan
  3. School of Agriculture, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan
  4. Plant Science Center, RIKEN, Yokohama 230-0045, Japan
  5. National Institute of Agrobiological Resources, Tsukuba 305-8602, Japan

Correspondence to: Motoyuki Ashikari1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.A. (Email: ashi@agr.nagoya-u.ac.jp).

Living organisms must acquire new biological functions to adapt to changing and hostile environments. Deepwater rice has evolved and adapted to flooding by acquiring the ability to significantly elongate its internodes, which have hollow structures and function as snorkels to allow gas exchange with the atmosphere, and thus prevent drowning1, 2, 3. Many physiological studies have shown that the phytohormones ethylene, gibberellin and abscisic acid are involved in this response4, 5, 6, 7, 8, but the gene(s) responsible for this trait has not been identified. Here we show the molecular mechanism of deepwater response through the identification of the genes SNORKEL1 and SNORKEL2, which trigger deepwater response by encoding ethylene response factors involved in ethylene signalling. Under deepwater conditions, ethylene accumulates in the plant and induces expression of these two genes. The products of SNORKEL1 and SNORKEL2 then trigger remarkable internode elongation via gibberellin. We also demonstrate that the introduction of three quantitative trait loci from deepwater rice into non-deepwater rice enabled the latter to become deepwater rice. This discovery will contribute to rice breeding in lowland areas that are frequently flooded during the rainy season.

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