Rice is the staple food for more than a third of the world′s population. It is estimated that rice constitutes nearly 20% of all human calorific intake. Global warming , desertification and salination have all contributed to reducing global rice yield. As agricultural conditions take a turn for the worst, researchers are finding ways to create more durable and higher-yielding crops.
Dwarfism, drought resistance and increased yield have long been key trait loci targets for rice. Gene transplant is a promising technique for trait modification. For example, results have shown that over-expression of the Arabidopsis PHYTOCHROME A (PHYA) gene in rice increased grain yield by up to 21% . The transgenic plants also showed significant reduction in height.
Phytochromes are a family of red/far-red light-absorbing photoreceptors that control plant developmental and metabolic processes in response to changes in light. By linking the foreign PHYA gene to a tissue-specific light regulator in rice (rbcS promoter), PHYA expression in rice was increased by at least 10-fold when exposed to white light, which in turn led to higher grain yield and shorter plants.
These results demonstrate the potential of using transgenes to manipulate light-signal transduction pathways in order to enhance grain productivity in rice.
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