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Genetic Rice now more tolerant to toxics

Melbourne, Sep 10 (Calcutta Tube) A team of scientists in Australian claimed to have altered the genes of rice so as to improve its tolerance to toxic sodium ion and increase the crops’ yields.

The scientists from the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) at the University of Adelaide worked in collaboration with colleagues based in Cairo, Copenhagen and Melbourne.

And the effort is under way to transfer the technology to wheat and barley, other staple foods for billions of people around the world, Australian news agency AAP reported.

They used a new technique to trap salt in the root of the rice plant, reducing the amount building up in the shoots and increasing its tolerance to salinity.

Research associate Darren Plett said the breakthrough offered the chance to increase global rice production, especially in areas where salinity was an issue.

[ReviewAZON asin=”B000UXVIYO” display=”inlinepost”]’Rice is often grown on land that is prone to high levels of salinity,’ Plett said.

‘Lands that accumulate salt have lower crop yields, which can threaten food supply. This has made salinity tolerance an increasingly important factor in the efforts to secure global food production.’

The researchers modified a gene to increase the number of salt-transporting proteins in specific cells in the roots of the rice plant, Plett said.

The modification resulted in salt being trapped in the root, where it is less harmful to the plant and prevented it travelling to the shoot where it does the most damage.

‘Our results provide a new approach for genetic modification to increase the tolerance of crops to the toxic sodium ion, which is a major environmental stress,’ Plett said.

‘Successful genetic engineering efforts using this technology should assist in global food production.’

The research has been published in the online peer-reviewed science journal PLoS ONE.

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