Drought resistant, higher-yielding GM rice developed by Japanese researchers

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Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science have developed strains of rice that are resistant to drought in real-world situations. Published in Plant Biotechnology Journal, the study reports that transgenic rice modified with a gene from the Arabidopsis plant yield more rice than unmodified rice when subjected to stress brought by natural drought.

In previous work, RIKEN scientists showed that Arabidopsis plants express the AtGolS2 gene in response to drought and salinity stress.

For this study, they created several lines of transgenic Brazilian and African rice that over-express this gene, and with their … collaborators, tested how well the rice grew in different conditions in different years.

When might we see this useful rice on the market? According to [RIKEN scientist Fuminori] Takahashi, the greatest barrier to commercial availability is that they used genetically modified (GM) technology to generate the GolS2 transgenic rice. “Now, we have begun our next collaborative project, in which we will generate useful rice without GM technology. It might take 5-10 years to reach our goal, but we must keep pressing forward because droughts and climate change might get worse in the future.”

[Read the full study here.]

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