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Using membrane transporters to improve crops for sustainable food production

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Abstract

With the global population predicted to grow by at least 25 per cent by 2050, the need for sustainable production of nutritious foods is critical for human and environmental health. Recent advances show that specialized plant membrane transporters can be used to enhance yields of staple crops, increase nutrient content and increase resistance to key stresses, including salinity, pathogens and aluminium toxicity, which in turn could expand available arable land.

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Figure 1: Engineering plants for enhanced aluminium (Al3+) tolerance.
Figure 2: HKT transporter-mediated salt tolerance in plants.
Figure 3: The role of SWEET sugar transporters in efflux of sucrose into the cell-wall space and induction by pathogenic bacteria.
Figure 4: Iron transport in rice.
Figure 5: Global phosphate availability and nitrate sensing.

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Acknowledgements

Research in our laboratories was supported by: the Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Biosciences, Office of Basic Energy Sciences at the US Department of Energy (DOE) under grant numbers DE-FG02-03ER15449 (to J.I.S.), DE-FG02-04ER15542 (to W.B.F.) and DE-FG-2-06ER15809 (to M.L.G.); by the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Australia (to R.M. and E.D.); by the US National Science Foundation under grant numbers IOS:0842720 (to M.J.H.), MCB0918220 (to J.I.S.) and IOS-091994 and DBI 0701119 (to M.L.G.); by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council under grant number BB/J004561/1 (to D.S.); by the National Institutes of Health under grant numbers GM060396-P42ES010337 (to J.I.S.) and GM078536 and P42ES007373 (to M.L.G.); by the US Department of Agriculture under grant number 2009-02273 (to L.V.K.); by a Generation Challenge Grant under grant number G7010.03.06 (to L.V.K.); by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute under grant number 55005946 (to L.H.E.); the CREST Japan Science and Technology Agency (to N.K.N.); by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan under grant number 23119507 (to T.H.); and by the Academia Sinica, Taiwan and the National Science Council, Taiwan under grant number NSC 101-2321-B-001-005 (to Y.F.T.).

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The project was conceived and outlined by J.I.S. The manuscript was planned by J.I.S. and D.S. All authors contributed to writing sections of the manuscript and all authors commented on versions of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Julian I. Schroeder or Dale Sanders.

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Schroeder, J., Delhaize, E., Frommer, W. et al. Using membrane transporters to improve crops for sustainable food production. Nature 497, 60–66 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11909

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