Saturday, August 15, 2015

Added Gene Can Make Rice More Climate-Friendly

Scientists discover a way to boost production of the grain that billions rely on for food – and reduce its damaging emissions of methane.

Rice, a staple for billions of people, could soon be more nutritious – and less polluting. (Image Credit: Tri Saputro/CIFOR via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
An international team of scientists has found a way to make rice more productive, more nutritious and less of a greenhouse gas producer – simply by adding just one gene from the cereal, barley.

The single gene SUSIBA 2 – the acronym stands for sugar signalling in barley – makes all the difference. And the importance of the breakthrough is that rice feeds half the world – but, as it grows, is one of the great sources of the greenhouse gas, methane.

The world’s rice paddy fields release up to 100 million tonnes each year of methane - possibly 17% of the global total.

And although methane emissions are small compared with carbon dioxide, each molecule of methane is far more potent a global warmer.  The gas is 34 times more potent than CO2 over a century, but 84 times more so over a much shorter time span – just 20 years.
The scientists from China, Sweden and the US report in Nature journal that they calculated that if they could do something to encourage the conversion of sugars to starches in the rice plant, there would be more productivity in the stalk and ears, and less around the roots, where the methane-generating bacteria flourish.

In their words, this would “generate a high starch, low methane emission variety”.
Japanese scientists, too, have been looking for ways to get all the value they can out of one of the world’s most vital crops.  But the other important outcome, the researchers say, was a near-elimination of methane production from around the roots.

Read more at Added Gene Can Make Rice More Climate-Friendly

No comments:

Post a Comment