05 Aug 2013:
New Deep-Rooted Rice
Shows Greater Resistance to Drought
Japanese scientists say they have developed a rice plant with deeper roots
that could yield a more drought-resistant variety of rice. Writing in the journal Nature Genetics
, a team of scientists describes the discovery of a gene that causes a rice strain known as Kinandang Patong, grown in the dry upland of
US AID Bangladesh
Rice paddy in Bangladesh
the Philippines, to send longer roots into the soil, allowing the plant to extract water from deeper soil layers. After splicing the gene with a commonly grown rice strain, called IR64, the scientists found that the maximum root depths were more than twice those of the typical plants. After exposing both strains to moderate and severe drought conditions, the researchers found that yields of the standard variety fell significantly in moderate drought conditions and collapsed altogether in severe drought, while the modified strains were not affected by moderate drought and yields declined only 30 percent in severe drought. “Based on our results, this variety can be adapted to upland [agriculture] without irrigation,” Yusaku Uga, a scientist at the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences and lead author of the study, told Agence France-Presse.
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