Research finds way to double rice crops in drought-stricken areas

November 20, 2008

University of Alberta research has yielded a way to double the output of rice crops in some of the world's poorest, most distressed areas.

Jerome Bernier, a PhD student in the U of A Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, has found a group of genes in rice that enables a yield of up to 100 per cent more in severe drought conditions.

The discovery marks the first time this group of genes in rice has been identified, and could potentially bring relief to farmers in countries like India and Thailand, where rice crops are regularly faced with drought. Rice is the number one crop consumed by humans annually.

The results of the study were published recently in the plant sciences journal Euphytica. Bernier's research began four years ago and focused on upland rice, which, unlike the majority of rice crops, grows in non-flooded, dry fields. "If drought hits, the yield can drop to almost nothing," Bernier said. He conducted his research at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, in conjunction with scientists there and in India.

He started with 126 genetic markers and narrowed his search to a group of genes that had the desired impact. In very severe drought conditions, rice strains with the new genes were shown to produce twice as those strains that did not have the genes. The new genes stimulate the rice plants to develop deeper roots, enabling it to access more of the water stored in the soil.

"For subsistence farmers who rely on the crop to feed their families, this extra yield can make a world of difference," said Bernier.

Less loss to drought may also mean an increased supply of rice globally, said Dean Spaner, Bernier's project supervisor and a professor of agricultural, food and nutritional science at the U of A.

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: New MutChromSeq technique makes valuable genes easier to find

Related Stories

Getting to the bottom of rice

July 23, 2009

Rice is the world's most important food crop. Understanding its valuable genetic diversity and using it to breed new rice varieties will provide the foundation for improving rice production into the future and to secure global ...

Roots breakthrough for drought-resistant rice

August 5, 2013

Japanese biotechnologists on Sunday said they had developed a rice plant with deeper roots that can sustain high yields in droughts that wipe out conventional rice crops.

HARDY rice: less water, more food

September 10, 2007

An international team of scientists has produced a new type of rice that grows better and uses water more efficiently than other rice crops. Professor Andy Pereira at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) has been working ...

Recommended for you

New aspect of atom mimicry for nanotechnology applications

December 2, 2016

In nanotechnology control is key. Control over the arrangements and distances between nanoparticles can allow tailored interaction strengths so that properties can be harnessed in devices such as plasmonic sensors. Now researchers ...

Evaluation of scientific rigor in animal research

December 2, 2016

The "reproducibility crisis" in biomedical research has led to questions about the scientific rigor in animal research, and thus the ethical justification of animal experiments. In research publishing in the Open Access journals ...

Swiss firm acquires Mars One private project

December 2, 2016

A British-Dutch project aiming to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018 announced Friday that the shareholders of a Swiss financial services company have agreed a takeover bid.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.