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Crop Biotech Update

Relationship of Rice Fragrance and Yield Reduction Under Salt Treatment

May 7, 2010

Fragrance in rice have been associated with gene deletions that leads to a loss of function of the enzyme betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (BADH2). Presence of BADHs in plants has been observed to support the plants' ability to bear abiotic stress. BADHs are produced in plants through the accumulation of glycinebetaine (GB). But since rice does not produce GB, the production of BADH2 has been attributed to the metabolism of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), which aids plants tolerate stress like high salinity.

Thus, a glasshouse-scale experiment was conducted by Timothy Liam Fitzgerald of the Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics in Australia, together with other scientists, to examine the difference in salt-tolerance of cultivated fragrant rice and cultivated non-fragrant rice which has BADH2. Results confirmed that the production of matured seeds was strongly inhibited in fragrant rice plants exposed to saline solution. Hence, fragrant rice usually favored by consumers may come from salt-sensitive rice plants.

The full article is downloadable at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envexpbot.2010.01.001.