Beijing: Chinese scientists have discovered two genes in rice that can make staple foods more heat-resistant and provide new ways to grow heat-resistant crops.
Researchers at the Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University have elucidated the mechanism by which rice cell membranes sense external heat stress signals before communicating with chloroplasts. It is the organ through which photosynthesis takes place to regulate heat tolerance.
Too much heat can damage the chloroplasts of the plant. Yields tend to decline when temperatures exceed the crop’s normal tolerances.
Researchers have identified loci with two genes, Thermo-tolerance 3.1 (TT3.1) and Thermo-tolerance 3.2 (TT3.2). According to the Chinese news agency (Xinhua), they interact in concert to increase the heat resistance of rice and reduce the yield loss caused by heat stress.
Researchers have found that accumulated TT3.2 causes chloroplast damage with respect to heat stress, but in that scenario, TT3.1 may serve as a treatment.
When heat stress is applied, a potential heat sensor, TT3.1, removes cell membranes from cells and degrades mature TT3.2 proteins, according to a study published in a scientific journal.
“This study elucidates a new molecular mechanism that connects plant cell membranes to chloroplasts in responding to heating signals,” said Lin, co-author of this paper, at the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai. Mr. Honsuan said.
The researchers then used hybridization to translate the TT3 locus of African rice into Asian species.
Field tests have shown that the new species are more heat resistant. Researchers say that while crops can withstand heat at 38 degrees Celsius without failure, normal seed production will decline above 35 degrees Celsius.
According to researchers, the newly discovered gene may also be used to grow heat-resistant strains in other plants such as wheat, corn, beans and vegetables.