Mitigating tradeoffs in plant breeding
Tradeoffs among plant traits help maintain relative fitness under unpredictable conditions and maximize reproductive success. However, modifying tradeoffs is a breeding challenge since many genes of minor effect are involved. The intensive crosstalk and fine-tuning between growth and defense responsive phytohormones via transcription factors optimizes growth, reproduction, and stress tolerance. There are regulating genes in grain crops that deploy diverse functions to overcome tradeoffs, e.g., miR-156-IPA1 regulates crosstalk between growth and defense to achieve high disease resistance and yield, while OsALDH2B1 loss of function causes imbalance among defense, growth, and reproduction in rice. GNI-A1 regulates seed number and weight in wheat by suppressing distal florets and altering assimilate distribution of proximal seeds in spikelets. Knocking out ABA-induced transcription repressors (AITRs) enhances abiotic stress adaptation without fitness cost in Arabidopsis. Deploying AITRs homologs in grain crops may facilitate breeding. This knowledge suggests overcoming tradeoffs through breeding may expose new ones.