Non-GMO method boosts rice yields

Scientists at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have found that they can harness photosynthesis – the process that plants use to convert light energy to chemical energy – to increase rice yields by up to 30 percent.

A research group led by Andy Pereira of the Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences Department faculty examined a protein that acts as a “switch” to activate genes that can enhance the photosynthesis activity of rice plants. The researchers discovered that the protein, known as higher yield rice (HYR), could enable the plants to survive stress, thrive and increase productivity.

The results of the research are published in Nature Communications, an online multidisciplinary journal of the natural sciences. The project received support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Science Foundation.

Before Pereira’s research on the project began a few years ago at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech – where he remains an adjunct faculty member – there was consensus among scientists that increasing photosynthesis capacity would probably increase productivity and yield. No one had proven it until Pereira’s group demonstrated grain yield increases as high as 29.7 percent by using the HYR regulator.

“Most importantly, the suite of genes regulated by HYR is the blueprint for development of similar rice varieties using non-GMO methods,” Pereira added.

Read the full, original article: Rice yield increase of 30 percent enabled by use of a photosynthesis ‘switch,’ researchers learn

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