A joint team of British and Japanese scientists reported they found a method to develop a new type of rice that is resistant to salt, opening new possibilities for Japan’s farmers who have been affected by the tsunami flooding.
Researchers at Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich said the discovery would allow Japanese farmers to grow salt-resistant rice within two years. A big part of Japan’s agricultural land in the north east of the country was covered by tsunami waters containing sea salt, making them unusable for regular rice crops.
“Advances in technology allow us to sequence plant genomes and identify gene variants that give rise to desirable traits,” explained a British researcher. “Our colleagues in Japan have already identified mutants that are more salt-resistant”.
The scientists used a new research model, called MutMap. Starting from “elite” rice, they create mutants with different properties until a certain quality is obtained.
“MutMap overcomes one of the greatest limitations, which has been the time it takes to identify genetic markers for desirable traits,” said professor Ryohei Terauchi, from Japan’s Iwate Biotechnology Research Centre.