Triple-Stacked GMO Rice Engineered for Better Sprouting

Some seasons are wet, others dry; some years insects take over or disease looms. There is always an element of uncertainty when it comes to farming: you never know what Mother Nature will throw at you. Even the problems you do know about, such as salty or nutrient-poor soil, can be difficult to overcome. Sometimes patient coaxing and careful tending are simply not enough to see a plentiful harvest spring forth from your field.

Researchers at Arcadia Biosciences in Davis, California, recently unveiled a strain of rice that they hope will be less vulnerable to some common growing problems. If successful, rice farmers will be able to plant this same strain of rice, year after year, ”regardless of the conditions.” Researchers have triple-fortified the rice to combat three problems that make rice hard to grow: drought, salty soil and lack of fertilizer.

The salt-tolerance gene came from Arabidopsis thaliana, a type of cress widely used in plant research, and the drought-tolerance gene came from a common soil bacterium called Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The gene that enables the plant to use nitrogen more efficiently, so that it doesn’t need fertiliser, came from barley.

More and more often plant biologists are reaching for the tool of genetic engineering to combat the myriad of challenges farmers face in the field. Read about how this new GMO rice hopes to stack up here.