BEIJING, Aug 19, 2015:
Chinese scientists may have the answer to solving global hunger. They have discovered a gene which could boost rice production by as much as a third.
The United Nations estimates that currently around 795 million people worldwide are undernourished, or about one in nine people on the planet, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
Since rice is a staple in in many countries any increase in output will help trim food prices and bring down chronic undernourishment.
According to the report, by modifying the BG1 gene, the Chinese researchers have managed to create one of the largest rice grains on the planet.
Strengthening the expression of BG1 could lead to a 33.8% increase in weight per thousand grains, according to the report which quoted Li Jiayang and Chu Chengcai of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology here.
The genetically modified grain, based on japonica rice, grows to over 8mm in length, longer than even the most “long grain” varieties, the report said.
The grains are also far wider than current long grain rice, resulting in a species that would dwarf all varieties on the market today in terms of mass.
The discovery of BG1 could potentially be used to boost the production of other commercial agricultural plants, said the scientists quoted in the report.
“Considering that … BG1 exists in many other plant species, including sorghum, maize and soybean, BG1 may have extensively practical roles in improving plant biomass and grain productivity in various species,” the report quoting the researchers added.