An extra copy of the/OsDREB1C gene/in rice boosted itsnitrogen intake,
resulting in more efficient photosynthesis and 40% more in grain yield.
The Chinese scientists who conducted the research are now looking at the
possibility of doing the same for other plants likewheat.
Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences started investigating
118 rice andmaizeregulatory genes that encode transcription factors
previously identified to be important to photosynthesis. Particularly,
they wanted to focus on genes that were activated when the plant is
grown in low-nitrogen soil as these might help increase the plant growth
activity and draw in more nitrogen to produce more grain. They narrowed
the selection down to 13, of which five led to a significant amount of
nitrogen intake. They then selected the/OsDREB1C/gene and used it in a
rice variety typically used for research â?? some had extra copies of the
gene inserted into it while others had the gene knocked out. The plants
were then subjected to greenhouse conditions where the scientist found
that those with extra copies of the/OsDREB1c/gene grew faster as
seedlings while those that had it knocked out were outgrown by control
plants. Results indicated that the plants with extra copies of
the/OsDREB1C/took in more nitrogen through their roots and transported
it to the shoots, and were better at photosynthesis.
The researchers then tested their method on a high-yielding rice variety
and it was here that they recorded bigger grains as well as up to 40%
more grain production per plot of the transgenic rice when compared to
the control plants. They also noted that the plants flowered sooner than
expected which also contributed to the increased yield.
The/OsDREB1C/gene and other similar genes are also present in wheat,
some grasses like rice, and broad-leaved plants. The data gathered from
the transgenic rice study may support other researchers that aim to
boost yields of other crops using the same type of modification.