Background: Cellulose synthase (CESA) mutants have potential use in straw processing due to their lower cellulose content, but almost all of the mutants exhibit defective phenotypes in plant growth and development. Balancing normal plant growth with reduced cellulose content remains a challenge, as cellulose content and normal plant growth are typically negatively correlated with one another.
Result: Here, the rice (Oryza sativa) semi-dominant brittle culm (sdbc) mutant Sdbc1, which harbors a substitution (D387N) at the first conserved aspartic acid residue of OsCESA9, exhibits lower cellulose content and reduced secondary wall thickness as well as enhanced biomass enzymatic saccharification compared with the wild type (WT). Further experiments indicated that the OsCESA9D387N mutation may compete with the wild-type OsCESA9 for interacting with OsCESA4 and OsCESA7, further forming non-functional or partially functional CSCs. The OsCESA9/OsCESA9D387N heterozygous plants increase salt tolerance through scavenging and detoxification of ROS and indirectly affecting related gene expression. They also improve rice straw return to the field due to their brittle culms and lower cellulose content without any negative effects in grain yield and lodging.
Conclusion: Hence, OsCESA9D387N allele can improve rice salt tolerance and provide the prospect of the rice straw for biofuels and bioproducts due to its improved enzymatic saccharification.
Keywords: Cellulose synthesis; Rice; Salt tolerance; Secondary cell wall (SCW); Straw process.