|A gene that raises rice yields by enhancing root growth and nutrient
absorption in low quality soils has been identified in a species of rice
in India and successfully introduced into other rice varieties.
Scientists and rice breeders have known for years that Kasalath rice is
unusually efficient at nutrient absorption, but only now have they
succeeded in identifying the gene responsible for this important trait.
Researchers at the International Rice Research Institute in Manila
described how they identified the gene after analyzing part of the
Kasalath DNA where it was thought to be located and comparing it with
other rice varieties without the trait.
Using conventional breeding methods, they introduced the gene into a few
rice types in Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan and found that it
raised yields by up to 20%.
The gene, PSTOL1, allows rice crops to thrive in soil that has low
levels of phosphorus, a nutrient that promotes root growth, winter
hardiness and hastens maturity. Plants deficient in phosphorus are often