Agri Business

Hyderabad varsity develops Sambha Mahsuri variety

M SOMASEKHAR Hyderabad | Updated on January 10, 2018

A new variety of the widely cultivated Sambha Mahsuri has been developed by a consortium of Indian, Canadian and Chinese scientists.

The ‘transgenic variety’, which has a gene from a weedy plant suitably manipulated, has demonstrated positive traits such as growing taller and bigger using water efficiently, says P B Kirti, one of the lead researchers from the University of Hyderabad (UoH).

The scientists used techniques of gene manipulation on the gene AtTOR (Target of Rapaycin), which has been taken from the weedy plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a common flowering plant, and injected it into the Sambha Mahsuri variety. The protein coded by this gene has the properties to give the transgenic variety the range of features described along with more efficient photosynthesis.

The water saved can be used to irrigate other crops. Further, the gene might show robust and external appearance in other crops, which can provide economic benefits to farmers. However, the results obtained are under experimental conditions at this stage. They need to be confirmed under normal field conditions of cultivation. Thereafter the results should pass the regulatory rigour, Kirti told Business Line.

Research team

The researchers from UoH, PJTSAU, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, National Research Council of Canada and the Agricultural Sciences in Beijing worked for over a year to arrive at the new variety.

The scientists published their work in the Scientific Reports section of the Nature journal. The utility of this promising variety will be better in areas prone to drought because of its advantages over the normal rice varieties demonstrated in laboratory conditions. The economic benefits to farmers could also be in the form of savings in electricity for irrigating the crop, which requires lots of standing water, he said.

Rice is a staple food for more than half of the world population. Environmental factors such as drought and high salinity are the major yield constraints for its high productivity. In recent years, the yeilds have been depleting, especially in India due to soil salinity and zinc deficiency, among other factors.

In this context, the recent advancements in genetic engineering has provided new opportunities to enhance yield potential and tolerance to drought and other stresses by manipulating some of the regulatory genes involved in complex physiological and biochemical processes, such as osmotic adjustment under water deficit environment, the researchers stated.

Published on September 05, 2017

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