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Underground solution to starving rice plants
Date:8/23/2012

ty in the Indian state of Meghalaya, knowledge of the exact gene will be critical for future breeding programs suited to Eastern and North-Eastern parts of India where rice productivity is less than 40% of the national average due to acidic soil and poor availability of phosphorus.

The discovery of the PSTOL1 gene means that rice breeders will be able to breed new rice varieties faster and more easily, and with 100% certainty their new rice will have the gene.

Dr. Joko Prasetiyono, of the Institute for Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetic Resources Research and Development in Indonesia, is breeding rice plants with the PSTOL1 gene. The plants are not genetically modified just bred using smart modern breeding techniques.

"In field tests in Indonesia and the Philippines, rice with the PSTOL1 gene produced about 20% more grain than rice without the gene," said Heuer.

"In our pot experiments," she added, "when we use soil that is really low in phosphorus, we see yield increases of 60% and more, suggesting it will be very effective in soils low in phosphorus such as in upland rice fields that are not irrigated and where farmers are often very poor."

The PSTOL1 gene is also being tested in rice varieties for the more productive irrigated rice-growing areas and initial results show that the plants grow a better root system and have higher production too. This means it could help farmers in these areas reduce their fertilizer use and expenditure without compromising productivity.

The discovery also demonstrates the importance of conserving the genetic diversity of traditional crop varieties such as Kasalath. IRRI conserves more than 114,000 different types of rice in the International Rice Genebank.

The group of rice (the aus-type) that Kasalath is part of is also the source of the submergence tolerance gene, which IRRI has used to breed submergence-tolerant (Sub1) rice varieties that are being widely ado
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Contact: Sophie Clayton
s.clayton@irri.org
63-258-05600 x2204
International Rice Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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