EPF Modification for Monocots

Tech ID: 20.671

Key Features

  • Drought and heat tolerance resulting in yield protection in:
    • Maize
    • Barley
    • Rice
    • Wheat
  • Pathogen resistance demonstrated for:
    • P. syringae
    • Brown rust (P. triticina)


Modifying stomatal density for improved yield through protection from abiotic and biotic stresses.

Through gene editing (or alternatively also by genetic modification) of peptide factors encoded by EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR (EPF) genes, stomatal density can be altered.  Decreased stomatal density results in improved WUE and drought tolerance.  The success of this strategy has already been demonstrated in rice, wheat and barley. Early results from maize are also looking promising.

For further detailed information please download the non-confidential summary pdf.


Published: WO 2018/197878

Granted: US 11,535,859; AU 2018258016


Hepworth et al. (2018) Stomatal development: focusing on the grasses Current Opinion in Plant Biology 41, pp 1-7.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbi.2017.07.009

Caine et al. (2019) Rice with reduced stomatal density conserves water and has improved drought tolerance under future climate conditions New Phytologist 221, 1 pp 371-384.  https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.15344

Dunn et al. (2019) Reduced stomatal density in bread wheat leads to increased water-use efficiency Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 70, No. 18 pp. 4737–4747.  https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erz248

Contact: Dr Lars von Borcke

Julie Gray and colleagues
University of Sheffield (UK)