A mutation gene that may help rice plants survive dought has been identified by scientists from the Philippine Rice Research Institute and Nagoya University in Japan.
The gene was identified from mutants of Taichung 65 rice variety which have wavy parental roots compared to its normal type that has straight parental roots.
The gene, known as wavy root elongation growth 1 (weg1) gene, is thought to help rice planys cope with drought especially in rainfed lowlands where water is scarce.
Read the story at Philippine Rice Research Institute
More on important gene discoveries in rice:
Scuba rice: Stemming the tide in flood-prone South Asia
Scientists had long known an Indian rice variety, unromantically dubbed FR13A, that could handle a week or more of complete submergence and recover sufficiently to offer a reasonable harvest. Rice, although often grown in standing water, will drown like any other plant if hit with severe flooding.
Despite its remarkable properties, FR13A (FR stands for “flood resistant”), as a low-yielding traditional variety grown across limited areas in the Indian state of Orissa, was never expected to make a big impact on a wide scale.
Nevertheless, rice breeders—including David Mackill, a young Californian plant breeder working at the International Rice Research Institute in the 1980s—saw the potential to breed FR13A’s sought-after trait into some of the modern high-yielding rice varieties planted over vast flood-prone areas across Asia.
Secret unlocked to underwater rice seed survival
A team of scientists from IRRI and the University of California Riverside recently published a study unlocking the secret to just how rice seeds might be able to survive when grown under water.
The study, which appears in the leading scientific journal Nature Plants, identified a gene that controls the availability of sugar to a growing seed, especially when under flooded conditions.
“Basically, the gene that we identified as AG1 (or OsTPP7) works opposite the one found in scuba rice, in which the SUB1 gene signals the plant to conserve energy while underwater, allowing it to stay dormant until the floodwater recedes,” said Dr. Tobias Kretzschmar, one of the paper’s authors and head of IRRI’s Genotyping Services Laboratory.
Underground solution to starving rice plants
Scientists have pinpointed a gene that enables rice plants to produce around 20% more grain by increasing uptake of phosphorus, an important, but limited, plant nutrient.
The discovery unlocks the potential to improve the food security of rice farmers with the lowest value phosphorus-deficient land, allowing them to grow more rice to add to global production, and earn more.
The gene—called PSTOL1, which stands for phosphorus starvation tolerance—helps rice grow a larger, better root system and thereby access more phosphorus. Farmers can apply phosphorus fertilizers to increase productivity but, on problem soils, phosphorus is often locked in the soil and unavailable to plants.