Rutgers-led team using duckweed as model plants for deeper research

August 17, 2021 |

In New Jersey, duckweed is an excellent laboratory model for scientists to discover new strategies for growing hardier and more sustainable crops in an age of climate change and global population boom, a Rutgers-led study finds. 

Researchers from Rutgers, the Salk Institute and an international team of specialists reviewed the anatomy, growth, physiology and molecular characteristics of duckweed, which has unique characteristics compared to other model plants that make them excellent candidates as model plants to tackle complex biological questions. One example is that genome sequences from multiple species of duckweed showed that these aquatic plants have a smaller number of genes compared to other model plant species, which may make duckweed a simpler plant model to characterize each gene’s function.

In addition, recent studies published by collaborating teams at Rutgers and the Salk Institute revealed that the smallest member of the duckweed family, Wolffia, may economize its energy for growth by minimizing the level of gene control over the daily day-night cycle.

Although duckweed has adapted to an aquatic habitat, it has all the same types of genes and pathways as in well studied crop plants.

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Category: Research

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