Geneticists offer clues to better rice, tomato crops

Jul 27, 2014
Closeup of S.pennellii. Credit: Raimund Knauf and Alexander Vogel

Scientists on Sunday laid bare the genetic codes of African rice and a type of wild tomato, data they said should help breed more resilient crops.

Teams detailed the genome sequences of the two plant species in separate papers in the journal Nature Genetics.

"As the world population is projected to increase from 7.1 billion to over nine billion by 2050, plant biologists must forge a second green revolution with the creation of crops that have two to three times the current yield with reduced inputs (ie less water, fertilizers and pesticides)," said the research paper.

"Rice will have a key role in helping to solve the problem of how to feed nine billion people."

African rice, scientific name Oryza glaberrima, is more drought resistant than the much more common Asian species (Oryza sativa).

In unravelling its genomic signature, an international team of geneticists established that African rice was domesticated from a wild species in a region next to the Niger river about 3,000 years ago—some 7,000 years after the domestication of Asian rice.

While more work is needed to pinpoint the individual stress-resistant genes, the team said publication of the genome presented "an unprecedented opportunity" for breeding new varieties of high-yield, drought-resistant crops.

The second study, into the inedible, wild South American tomato Solanum pennellii, managed to identify key genes linked to dehydration resistance, fruit development and ripening.

The species is already used to improve the cultivated common tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, through interbreeding.

The new data may help breed even tastier, more stress-tolerant tomatoes, said the study authors.

Explore further: Plant scientists delve into Australia's ancient past

More information: Nature Genetics DOI: 10.1038/ng.3046

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Comparing genomes of wild and domestic tomato

Jun 26, 2013

You say tomato, I say comparative transcriptomics. Researchers in the U.S., Europe and Japan have produced the first comparison of both the DNA sequences and which genes are active, or being transcribed, ...

Gene's past could improve the future of rice

Jan 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- In an effort to improve rice varieties, a Purdue University researcher was part of a team that traced the evolutionary history of domesticated rice by using a process that focuses on one gene.

Recommended for you

Cataloguing 10 million human gut microbial genes

Nov 25, 2014

Over the past several years, research on bacteria in the digestive tract (gut microbiome) has confirmed the major role they play in our health. An international consortium, in which INRA participates, has developed the most ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

KBK
not rated yet Jul 27, 2014
Just keep it really really really really really really really far far far away from the slimy little hands and beady eyes of the psychopathic crock called "Monsanto".

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.