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Meridian Institute

New, Higher-Yielding Rice Plant Could Ease Threat of Hunger for Poor

Summary posted by Meridian on 1/15/2009

Source: IRRI

Author(s): n/a

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) - led "C4 Rice Consortium" has received a three-year US$11 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the U.S. The C4 Rice Consortium is an international group of research institutes that aims to develop rice that relies on "C4" photosynthesis rather than "C3." According to the press release, some plant species, including rice, have a mode of photosynthesis known as C3 in which the capture of carbon dioxide is relatively inefficient. Other plants, such as maize and sorghum, have evolved a much more efficient form of photosynthesis known as C4. IRRI scientist and project leader John Sheehy says, "Converting the photosynthesis of rice from the less-efficient C3 form to the C4 form would increase yields by 50%." C4 rice would also use water twice as efficiently, Sheehy says. In developing tropical countries, where billions of poor people rely on rice as their staple food, "The benefits of such an improvement in the face of increasing world population, increasing food prices, and decreasing natural resources would be immense," states Sheehy. He adds that "This is a long-term, complex project that will take a decade or more to complete." Work on the project involves the use of "modern molecular tools," according to the press release. IRRI is one of the 15 centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR); it is based in the Philippines, with offices in 13 other countries. The press release can be viewed online at the link below.

The original article may still be available at http://beta.irri.org/news/index.php/200809084903/frontpage/pr/Latest-Press-Release.html

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