Root angle is controlled by EGT1 in cereal crops employing an antigravitropic mechanism.

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Root angle in crops represents a key trait for efficient capture of soil resources. Root angle is determined by competing gravitropic versus antigravitropic offset (AGO) mechanisms. Here we report a root angle regulatory gene termed ENHANCED GRAVITROPISM1 (EGT1) that encodes a putative AGO component, whose loss-of-function enhances root gravitropism. Mutations in barley and wheat EGT1 genes confer a striking root phenotype, where every root class adopts a steeper growth angle. EGT1 encodes an F-box and Tubby domain-containing protein that is highly conserved across plant species. Haplotype analysis found that natural allelic variation at the barley EGT1 locus impacts root angle. Gravitropic assays indicated that Hvegt1 roots bend more rapidly than wild-type. Transcript profiling revealed Hvegt1 roots deregulate reactive oxygen species (ROS) homeostasis and cell wall-loosening enzymes and cofactors. ROS imaging shows that Hvegt1 root basal meristem and elongation zone tissues have reduced levels. Atomic force microscopy measurements detected elongating Hvegt1 root cortical cell walls are significantly less stiff than wild-type. In situ analysis identified HvEGT1 is expressed in elongating cortical and stele tissues, which are distinct from known root gravitropic perception and response tissues in the columella and epidermis, respectively. We propose that EGT1 controls root angle by regulating cell wall stiffness in elongating root cortical tissue, counteracting the gravitropic machinery’s known ability to bend the root via its outermost tissues. We conclude that root angle is controlled by EGT1 in cereal crops employing an antigravitropic mechanism.