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LATEST UPDATES » Vol 22, No 02, February 2018 – Searching for the fountain of youth       » Chinese researchers cloned monkeys       » National Science and Technology Prizes       » Highlights from the State Natural Science Award       » Highlights from the State Technological Invention Award      
EYE ON CHINA
Chinese Scientists in Rice Breakthrough
Chinese scientists had identified a plant gene which can help fight rice blast — a major global disease that savages crops — and reduce the use of harmful pesticides.

Rice blast is a fungus and a major scourge in China and worldwide. It can halve the grain production. Scientists estimate that globally rice blast destroys the crops that could feed up to 85 million people annually.

"Experts estimate that rice blast causes the loss of 3 million tons of rice in China every year,” said He Zuhua, chief scientist of the research team from the Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"Although some areas can control the disease, the cost behind is the high usage of pesticides. It is a threat to the environment and food security. So we have been looking for disease-resistant genes. By identifying the useful gene and promoting it to more rice products, we can not only control rice blast but also protect the environment and public health.”

The team in 2006 identified a gene, Pigm, which has broad-spectrum resistance. The scientists then spent a decade to analyze the mechanism of the gene locus and found it encodes two proteins — PigmR and PigmS.

PigmR can defend disease but leads to a drop in production, while PigmS can raise grain production but inhibits the resistance effect of PigmR.

"The two proteins result a good balance by controlling the disease and maintaining good production,” He said. "By fully understanding the gene, we can guide seed companies and breeders. So far, over 30 domestic companies and breeders have used our discovery for molecular breeding to allow new rice varieties with better disease resistance effects but ideal production.”

The discovery was published in Science.

Source: Shanghai Daily & CAS
(Edited by APBN)

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APBN Editorial Calendar 2018
January:
Obesity / Outlook for 2018
February:
Searching for the fountain of youth
March:
Nutrition / Women in Science
April:
Digestive health / Intellectual property
May:
Asthma / Dental health
June:
Oncology / Biotech landscape in APAC
July:
Water management / Vaccination
August:
Regenerative medicine / Biotech start ups
September:
Digital healthcare / 3D printing
October:
Bones / Breast cancer
November:
Liver health / Top science research nations & institutions
December:
AIDS / Breakthrough of the year/Emerging trends
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
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