News 172 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Scientists find gene to boost rice output

Chinese scientists have identified and cloned a rice gene that influences rice weight and yield. This discovery could help scientists develop higher yielding varieties of the world's most important food crop.

Lin Hongxuan and colleagues from the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences studied two varieties of rice with highly significant differences in grain size. After mapping their genomes, they found a gene called GW2 in the large-grain rice that was lacking in the small-grain rice. They then created a variety of the naturally small-grained rice with the GW2 gene, and found that the gene increased the width and weight of rice grains and increased grain yield per plant by nearly 20%.

The team say the GW2 gene will facilitate breeding efforts to improve grain yield in food crops. But they say further evidence is needed to support their finding.

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