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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Flood Resistant Rice

Rice is the staple food for
about half of the world's population
                              A gene that increases a rice plant's resistance to floods also boosts its ability to recover from droughts(A prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall; a shortage of water resulting from this), a study has shown.

Researchers found that the gene, Sub1A, allowed to plants to survive by growing fresh shoots after a period of drought.
Rice is the primary food for three billion people, and more than 25% the world's harvest is grown in areas that experience extreme weather conditions.
"Flood tolerance does not reduce drought tolerance in these plants, and appears to even benefit them when they encounter drought," observed lead author Julia Bailey-Serres from the University of California Riverside's department of botany and plant sciences.

A rice plant containing the Sub1A gene (at right in each image) recovered significantly better after a simulated drought

They reported that the gene served as a point where the pathways of the plant's response to both submergence and drought, resulting in the crop's ability to survive and recover from either kind of extreme weather event.
"Our findings suggest that the plant recovers well from drought and growing new shoots," Professor Bailey-Serres said. "This is something that is also seen with flooding."
Plant breeders have already utilised the gene's flood tolerance traits and transferred it into high-yielding varieties.
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