Biotech Updates

Researchers Identify Gene that Regulates Rice Yield Potential

May 9, 2008

Researchers from Huazhong Agricultural University in China have pinpointed a gene that plays a linchpin role in determining yield potential in rice, as well as the plant’s adaptability to cooler climates. Their study, published by the journal Nature Genetics, has implications for rice productivity.

Rice productivity is determined by several traits - number of grains per flower cluster, the height of the plant and its flowering time. Previous studies have identified a region on chromosome 7 that affected all these traits, but the specific gene involved has not yet been pinpointed. Qifa Zhang and his colleagues screened thousands of rice plants in a bid to track down the elusive gene.

The researchers found out that deletion of the Ghd7 gene results to plants that are shorter and have fewer grains per panicle. There are five different versions of Ghd7. Less active, or inactive, versions of Ghd7 were found in rice grown in temperate regions. This enables rice to be cultivated in areas where there is a short growing season.

The abstract, including links to the full article, is available at