Transgenic rice uses weed gene to combat drought effects

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, rice is the world’s third-largest crop after wheat and maize. It’s the staple food in large regions of the world, and with increasing demand and the perceived perils of a changing climate, the vulnerability of rice production to droughts is a growing concern. The RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) is developing new transgenic strains of rice incorporating a gene from the weed thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) to make them more drought-resistant. The CSRS scientists say that plants are able to adapt to drought by generating chemicals called osmoprotectants that include various forms of sugar. By increasing the concentration of the protectants in cells, they retain water better – much in the same way, to make a crude analogy, a damp salt cake dries out more slowly than a dish of water. Sick of Ads? More than 700 New Atlas Plus subscribers read our newsletter and website without ads….

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