Genetic tweak could increase yield, boost drought tolerance in rice, potato: study

02 Sep 2021
5 min read

News Synopsis

Making a relatively simple tweak to plant machinery can kick their productivity into overuse, allowing rice and potato crops to produce 50% more food. It rises the activity of a particular protein in plants—could find a vast range of uses, the researchers believe, most urgently in tackling food insecurity due to the threats posed by climate change. Their discovery pivots on a protein called FTO that exists in plants and many other organisms, including humans. Previous research has shown that in humans, this particular protein affects growth, seemingly by modulating the behavior of RNA. The plants also seemed more capable of handling dry conditions, and when tested under drought-like conditions, were able to flourish better with less water than their non-engineered counterparts.

Food security and biodiversity preservation, though, remain the two highest-priority goals. Enhancing yields, especially in drought-stricken habitats, would generate more food in places where food insecurity is on the rise and reduce the pressure on already-strained land resources.


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