New Delhi: A group of Indian, Chinese, and Canadian scientists have developed transgenic rice that gives high yields even under severe water deficit.
The new rice variety has been developed by transferring a gene from a common plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, into a variety of Indian rice called samba mahsuri. This gene is known to be involved in pathways controlling growth and development. Arabidopsis thaliana is a flowering plant widely used for research purposes but it has no agronomic value as such.
Putting the thaliana gene into rice increased its height, length of the panicle that encloses the grain, efficiency of photosynthesis, chlorophyll content, and water use efficiency. Under water scarce conditions created in laboratory, the transgenic rice performed better than their unmodified counterparts, according to research results published in journal Scientific Reports.
The content of chlorophyll which is required for plants to grow reduces under stress conditions like drought, which in turn hits the yield. The transgenic rice maintained high chlorophyll content even under water-deficit and therefore performed better.
Seedlings of transgenic rice that perform better under drought conditions are seen growing in small plates in the lab (left). They grow taller compared to non-transgenic rice plants in pots with lesser water in a greenhouse (right).