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Scientists identify gene that may contribute to improved rice yield
Date:9/28/2008

ce in which the GIF1 gene is overexpressed and found that, compared with normal strains, the transgenic rice had larger and heavier grains.

According to Ma, the team was surprised to find that the GIF1 gene was so specialized in controlling invertase activity in a particular part of the grain -- the vascular tissue, which transports nutrients, including sugars generated by invertase, to the developing grain. "The expression pattern was not expected, in part, because invertase is a general enzyme that is used by many cell types. In fact, the corresponding gene in wild rice is not expressed specifically."

The team also found that the GIF1 gene is one of the genes that were selected during the domestication of rice. "By selectively growing only those strains of rice with heavier grains, humans for thousands of years unknowingly have been increasing the frequency of rice populations that had modifications in the GIF1 gene," said Ma. "This process has caused GIF1 to be expressed specifically in the vascular tissue and, thus, to produce larger rice grains," said Ma.

The scientists hope that their findings will help others to create hybrid varieties of rice that produce even larger grains. In the meantime, they plan to perform additional analyses that will help them to understand how other genes might be involved in the process of improving rice yield. "The goal is to understand what controls grain weight and other factors, and to look for ways to increase yield," said Ma.


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Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
science@psu.edu
814-863-4682
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

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