Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Single gene is both friend and foe to rice


[BEIJING] One rice gene regulates both the plant's fertility and its ability to resist a major bacterial disease, according to research published by Genes and Development this week.

The finding could help scientists develop rice varieties with higher yields and that are better able to resist the disease, says lead researcher Wang Shiping of Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, China.

Bacterial leaf blight is one of the plant world's most devastating bacterial diseases.

The newly discovered gene can have both positive and negative effects. The most common form of the gene makes rice plants more susceptible to bacterial leaf blight but also makes them produce more pollen.

According to Wang, one way for researchers to maximise the gene's benefits would be to block its activity in leaves while boosting it in flowers.

In a separate study published this month, researchers led by Zhu Lihuang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences genetically modified rice to resist the single most important rice disease.

Rice blast disease is caused by a fungus called Magnaporthe grisea.

Zhu's team modified rice plants using a local variety that resists all 156 Chinese and Japanese strains of the fungus. The research was published online by the The Plant Journal on 4 May.

Link to abstract of paper in Genes & Development

Reference: Genes and Development, DOI: 10.1101/gad.1416306 (2006)

Link to abstract of paper in Plant Journal 

Reference: Plant Journal doi:10.1111/j.1365-313X.2006.02739.x (2006)

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.