Over-expression of Transcription Factor Increases Yield in Rice

Simultaneously Enhancing Tolerance to Stresses

Available for Licensing

IP Status

US Utility Patent: US 2019/0233480 A1 


Daniel Bush
Bettina Broeckling
Michael Friedman
Amanda Broz

At A Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed novel methods for improving yield, biomass accumulation, and stress tolerance in rice.  Utilization of a novel transcription factor termed MPG1, provided greater grain yield, biomass, and abiotic and biotic stress tolerance (such as pathogens) when compared to wild-type rice plants. Furthermore, the methods include recombinant expression cassettes, gene-editing, transgenic plants, and breeding strategy.

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Licensing Director

Jillian Lang

Reference No.: 15-071


Crops such as corn, rice, wheat, canola and soybean account for over half the total human caloric intake.  With global population growth putting significant strain on energy and food securities, a focus has been on increasing harvestable yields of these essential crops.  It is expected that rice alone will need to achieve an annual global volumetric production rate of 800 million tons per year by 2025 (Kubo, (2004) Journal of Food Distribution & Research 35:128-142).  Traditional methods of improving crop yield have centered on breeding techniques; and while significant improvements have been achieved, breeding techniques are laborious and slow.  Furthermore, for many crops, yield increases have significantly slowed as genetic potential for increases have already been exploited.

How then, do we overcome increasing populations and stagnant yields?

Technology Overview


A rice T-DNA insertion mutant causes a mutagenic event resulting in the over expression of a nearby gene.  The over-expression pattern and phenotype have correlated 100% across multiple generations, including segregating backcrossing populations.  Mutant rice plants exhibited as high as a 7.4-fold increase in biomass and a simultaneous 3.6-fold increase in seed yield.  These plants also exhibited a delay in flowering time by an average of 16 days. The longer vegetative growth period only partially accounted for the increased biomass; the mutant rice plants also possess longer and wider leaves, and increased tiller girth.  Further phenotypic analysis showed that the increase in biomass is positively influenced by abiotic and possibly biotic stress. Mutant plants placed under drought, pH, and salt stress had substantially higher yields than wild type controls.

Figure 1 (below) illustrates the substantial improvements in the MPG1 mutant rice strain in comparison to wild-type and heterozygous segregants.


Figure 1. The Graphs are phenotypic measurements of mpg1 mutant T4 & F2BC1 populations (A) flowering time, till immerging panicle stage; (B) tiller number during lifecycle; and (C) height (cm) dring lifecycle. P < 0.05

Nomenclature: TWT – true wild type plants; WT – Wild type segregants; HT – heterozygous segregants;HM – homozygous segregants

  • Increased rice plant yield: biomass, seed yield, etc.
  • Provides stress tolerance

Last updated: April 2022