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Crop Biotech Update

Four Newly-Discovered Genes to Improve Rice

June 29, 2016

A research team from Kobe University in Japan has discovered four new genes in rice that are potentially significant to agriculture. The team used genome-wide association studies (GWAS), a frequently used method in analyzing human genes, instead of quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis, which has been in use for genetic analysis of crops.

The research team limited their targets to 176 Japanese rice cultivars, including 86 cultivars used in Japanese-sake brewing that Kobe University has maintained over many years. Using next-generation sequencing, the group determined the whole sequence of each cultivar, and discovered a total of 493,881 of the DNA-based polymorphisms.

Based on these results, the team identified four genes within a group of 12 rice plant chromosomes. Chromosome 1 contains a gene that decides rice flowering date; chromosome 4 contains a gene that influences panicle number produced, leaf breadth, and rice grain number; a chromosome 8 gene affects awn length (a factor which influences harvesting); and a gene within chromosome 11 decides flowering date, plant height, and panicle length. This experiment could aid the discovery of genes in other plant and animal species and potentially contribute towards solving food shortages caused by population growth.

For more details, read the news release at the Kobe University website.