New GMO rice variety could cut arsenic exposure in food

thailands rice farmers
Credit: Siebe Baarda

Arsenic accumulation in rice grains is one of the serious agricultural issues in India. To address this, researchers at Lucknow-based CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute have developed transgenic rice by inserting a novel fungal gene, which results in reduced arsenic accumulation in rice grain.

In their latest study, researchers have cloned Arsenic methyltransferase (WaarsM) gene from a soil fungus, Westerdykellaaurantiaca, and inserted the same into the rice genome with the help of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a soil bacterium which has natural ability to alter the plant’s genetic makeup.

The newly developed transgenic rice along with normal rice was then treated with arsenic. Comparison of transgenic and non-transgenic rice showed that transgenic plants accumulated less arsenic in root as well as shoot as compared to non-transgenic lines.

Related article:  Following trade negotiations, Argentina moves closer to exporting world's first GMO wheat

“Our study provides an understanding into arsenic transport mechanism in plants, predominantly rice grain. This knowledge can be applied to develop practices to decrease accumulation of arsenic in rice grain by molecular breeding, gene editing or transgenic approaches. It can have tremendous public health consequences,” explained Debasis Chakarabarty, [one of the study’s authors].

Read full, original article: Researchers develop transgenic rice with reduced arsenic accumulation

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