Rice gene digs deep to triple yields in drought
With a warmer planet and unpredictable weather patterns, we will need much more research such as the kind mentioned below, developing rice varieties (non GMO) that can survive drought period by having longer roots.
Severe drought can cause as much as 40 per cent yield loss
The gene causes the roots to grow further down towards water and nutrients
This produces grains during drought, raising hopes for better rice crops
A gene that gives rice plants deeper roots can triple yields during droughts, according to Japanese researchers writing in Nature Genetics this week (4 August).
Rice is a staple food for nearly half of the world’s population, but is also particularly susceptible to drought owing to its shallow roots, researchers say.
“If rice adapts to or avoids drought conditions using deeper roots, it can get water and nutrients from the deep soil layers.”
Yusaku Uga The new study shows that by pointing roots down instead of sideways, the Deeper Rooting 1 (DRO1) gene results in roots that are nearly twice as deep as those of standard rice varieties.
“If rice adapts to or avoids drought conditions using deeper roots, it can get water and nutrients from the deep soil layers,” says the study’s lead author Yusaku Uga, a researcher with Japan’s National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences.
Uga and his team found that in moderate drought conditions, the yield of rice with DRO1 was double that of the shallow-rooted rice variety. Under severe drought conditions, this increased to 3.6 times greater.