Saturday, June 5, 2010

Improving Rice Yields, Feeding the World

Two groups of scientists working independently have identified a variant of a gene in rice that can increase rice crop yields by 10%, according to a news report in Science. Neither group knew of the other’s work until their work was near completion, but when they learned of each other’s work they agreed to publish simultaneously.

Rice is a staple of a large fraction of the world’s population. Breakthroughs such as this one will help improve crop yields and feed the still-rising world population. They’re made possible by modern DNA technology and genetic engineering – techniques that allow crop scientists to sequence genomes, identify specific genes with specific actions, and then splice the genes into other plants of interest.

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