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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Discover Protein which Boosts Rice Yield by 50 Percent

June 8, 2016

Together with researchers from Nanjing Agricultural University in China, Dr. Tony Miller from the John Innes Centre (JIC) has developed rice crops with an improved ability to manage their own pH levels, enabling them to take up significantly more nitrogen, iron, and phosphorous from soil and increase yield by up to 54 percent.

Dr. Miller has been working with partners in Nanjing on how rice plants maintain pH under changing environments. His team found that the rice gene OsNRT2.3b, which creates a protein involved in nitrate transport, can switch nitrate transport on or off, depending on the internal pH of the plant cell. When this protein was overexpressed in rice plants, they were better able to buffer themselves against pH changes in their environment. This enabled them to take up much more nitrogen, as well as more iron and phosphorus. These rice plants gave a much higher yield of rice grain (up to 54 percent more yield), and their nitrogen use efficiency increased by up to 40 percent.

This new technology has been patented by PBL, the John Innes Centre's innovation management company, and has already been licensed to 3 different companies to develop new varieties of 6 different crop species.

For more, read the news release at the JIC website.