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Published on : Apr 02, 2014

Scientists at the Michigan Technological University have identified a set of genes that can allow the development of an innovative future-generation rice breed that would be tough enough to resist diseases and also handle stress that arise due to biotic issues such as infectious organisms and abiotic issues such as nutrient deficiency, salinity and floods. 

As the human population finds itself on the verge of crossing the nine billion mark, the need for such super crops is soon to gain huge demand. Climatic conditions on earth are largely and continuously escalating and the world is already seeing difficulties in growing crops under such climatic conditions. Additional problems are posed by issues such as pollution and growing rate of pathogens around the globe. 

In conditions like these, discovery of such a variety of crop will be hugely appreciated. The team of researchers behind this discovery has been able to uncover nearly 1000 rice genes that appear to perform key roles in handling biotic and abiotic stress.     

The researchers, Biologist Ramakrishna Wusirika and Rafi Shaik, a PhD student, have discovered that the 1,377 genes of the nearly 3,800 rice genes involved in handling stress regulated both biotic and abiotic kinds of stress. This contrasts the traditional scientific belief that different sets of genes respond to different kinds of stresses. 

Scientists studied the genes for five kinds of abiotic stresses - nutrient deficiency, drought, heavy metal contamination, salinity and cold - and five kinds of biotic stresses - bacteria, weeds, nematodes, fungus and insects of various kinds. 

The detailed research story can be found in the journal Plant Physiology.