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2-Plants: GM rice 'could reduce reliance on phosphate fertiliser'

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TITLE:  GM rice 'could reduce reliance on phosphate fertiliser'
SOURCE: SciDev.Net, UK, by Jia Hepeng
DATE:   8 Aug 2005

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GM rice 'could reduce reliance on phosphate fertiliser'

[BEIJING] Chinese scientists have genetically modified rice to grow well
in soil that has low levels of the mineral phosphate.

According to lead researcher Wu Ping of Zhejiang University this could
reduce farmers' reliance on costly and environmentally-damaging phosphate

The researchers published their findings in the July issue of Plant

They found that a gene called osptf1 became active when rice was grown in
low levels of phosphate.

They then copied the gene and inserted it into a different variety of
rice to create genetically-modified (GM) plants that could tolerate low
phosphate levels.

When grown in such conditions, the GM rice plants produced longer roots
and took up 30 per cent more phosphate than non-GM rice plants in the
same environment.

One of the researchers, Guo Longbiao of the China National Rice Research
Institute told SciDev.Net that because osptf1 was derived from rice
rather than a different plant species, new rice varieties containing the
gene could be developed by combining traditional breeding with molecular

Although this method would take several years longer than using genetic
modification on its own, said Guo, it could be used in areas where the
sale of GM rice has not been authorised.

Guo added that new rice varieties with the osptf1 gene would be important
in many developing countries. When phosphate fertilisers are used in such
countries, yields increase but at a high cost to farmers and to the
environment, he said. Phosphate fertilisers, which often contain the
toxins fluoride and arsenic, are among the most environmentally damaging
of all fertilisers. Their manufacture can cause atmospheric pollution,
and the fertilisers themselves can pollute soil and rivers.

Link to abstract of paper in PLANt Physiology

Reference: Plant Physiology doi:10.1104/pp.105.063115


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