Scientists pinpoint gene for better rice

Working in two separate groups, researchers from China discovered that mutations in a specific gene resulted in longer, more sle
Working in two separate groups, researchers from China discovered that mutations in a specific gene resulted in longer, more slender grains with less chalkiness, and better harvests

Scientists said Monday they had pinpointed variants of a gene to improve the quality and yield of rice, a staple starch for billions of people.

Working in two separate groups, researchers from China discovered that mutations in a specific gene resulted in longer, more slender grains with less chalkiness, and better harvests.

Breeders can now combine versions of the gene with others known to affect quality to breed better and more productive strains, they said.

"Rice is the key source of dietary calories for over half the world's population and a substantial improvement of yield potential will be required to feed a growing human population," Fu Xiangdong of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a co-author of one of the studies, told AFP by email.

Fu said breeders have found it challenging to simultaneously improve grain yield and quality.

There is a genetic tradeoff in plant breeding, meaning that it is hard to make gains in both areas at the same time.

Fu and a team crossed two rice varieties—one a widely-grown but mediocre hybrid variety and the other a better but less prolific type, to locate the genetic variant responsible for the difference in quality.

They then used this to develop experimental high-yield, better .

A separate team used similar methods to pinpoint variants of the same gene, called LOC_Os07g41200.

Workers plant rice in a paddy field at a farm in the New Territories in Hong Kong on August 6, 2014
Workers plant rice in a paddy field at a farm in the New Territories in Hong Kong on August 6, 2014

The two papers were published Monday in the journal Nature Genetics.

"Both studies demonstrated that other gene variants known to improve yield or other traits affecting quality could be combined with the high quality LOC_Os07g41200 variant to produce new elite varieties of rice," said a Nature press release.

The research is the latest in a host of better-rice gene discoveries.

They include variants which help the plants cope better with drought or inhospitable soil, offering a potential boon to farmers at a time of worsening climate change.


Explore further

Scientists discover wonder rice gene

More information: DOI: 10.1038/ng.3346
DOI: 10.1038/ng.3352
Journal information: Nature Genetics

© 2015 AFP

Citation: Scientists pinpoint gene for better rice (2015, July 6) retrieved 21 November 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-07-scientists-gene-rice.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
95 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments