Biotech Updates

Scientists Develop Nitrogen Use Efficient Rice

June 13, 2008

Nitrogen is a major limiting factor in plant productivity. Crop plants, especially those grown for grain yield, are usually supplied with inorganic nitrogen fertilizers. The use of nitrogen fertilizer, however, is generally inefficient. It is estimated that only about a third of the fertilizer applied is actually absorbed by crops. Unused fertilizer can leach into ground water or be washed away into lakes, rivers and streams, where it depletes the bodies’ dissolved oxygen and induces phytoplankton bloom. Thus, development of plants that can take-up and assimilate nitrogen efficiently has been a long-term goal of agricultural researchers.

Scientists from the University of Alberta in Canada have developed nitrogen use efficient (NUE) transgenic rice lines. The NUE rice harbors alaAT gene (codes for the enzyme alanine aminotransferase) from barley driven by a rice tissue-specific promoter. The transgenic plants exhibited higher biomass and grain yield compared to its non-GM counterparts. The GM lines also demonstrated significant changes in key metabolites and total nitrogen content, indicating increased nitrogen uptake efficiency.

Read the paper at