Brassinosteroids regulate grain filling in rice

Chuan Yin Wu, Anthony Trieu, Parthiban Radhakrishnan, Shing F. Kwok, Sam Harris, Ke Zhang, Jiulin Wang, Jianmin Wan, Huqu Zhai, Suguru Takatsuto, Shogo Matsumoto, Shozo Fujiok, Kenneth A. Feldmann, Roger I. Pennell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

272 Scopus citations


Genes controlling hormone levels have been used to increase grain yields in wheat (Triticum aestivum) and rice (Oryza sativa). We created transgenic rice plants expressing maize (Zea mays), rice, or Arabidopsis thaliana genes encoding sterol C-22 hydroxylases that control brassinosteroid (BR) hormone levels using a promoter that is active in only the stems, leaves, and roots. The transgenic plants produced more tillers and more seed than wild-type plants. The seed were heavier as well, especially the seed at the bases of the spikes that fill the least. These phenotypic changes brought about 15 to 44% increases in grain yield per plant relative to wild-type plants in greenhouse and field trials. Expression of the Arabidopsis C-22 hydroxylase in the embryos or endosperms themselves had no apparent effect on seed weight. These results suggested that BRs stimulate the flow of assimilate from the source to the sink. Microarray and photosynthesis analysis of transgenic plants revealed evidence of enhanced CO2 assimilation, enlarged glucose pools in the flag leaves, and increased assimilation of glucose to starch in the seed. These results further suggested that BRs stimulate the flow of assimilate. Plants have not been bred directly for seed filling traits, suggesting that genes that control seed filling could be used to further increase grain yield in crop plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2130-2145
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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