Cereals in general, and rice in particular, are the major source of nutrition for a growing world population. Many of these crops are grown at intensively utilized fields, in which soil nutrients need to be constantly resupplied by fertilization. Because of the high costs and energy demand, there is a need to reduce the use of fertilizers and adapt to a more sustainable form of agriculture. Crop plants that use nutrients more efficiently than the currently available lines, can help to reach these future goals. Potassium (K+) is the most important cationic nutrient and its transport has been studied intensively for the model plant Arabidopsis., but little is known about the transport proteins that channel K+ fluxes in the cereals.
Our previous study has revealed important differences in tissue localization and activation mechanisms of K+ efflux channels, between rice plants and Arabidopsis (Nguyen et al., 2017, Plant Physiology). In the „RiceKtrans“ project we will get further insights into the specific role of several K+ transport proteins and reveal their function in water transport as well as nutrient uptake in rice plants growing at field conditions. It is likely that this knowledge will be valuable for breeding rice plants with a lower demand for K+ fertilizers, while maintaining a good nutritional quality of the grains. Such traits will be of prime importance for sustainable agriculture and future food security.