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Salt-resistant Gene of Rice Cloned

Chinese scientists have successfully cloned SKC1, a salt-resistant functional gene of rice, the use of which is expected to raise and stabilize the rice output of the country.


Chinese scientists are to cultivate a variety of salt-proof rice strains with the cloned SKC1 genes in the coming several years, said Lin Hongxuan, a research fellow with the State Key Lab of Plant Molecule of the Shanghai Academy of Bio-sciences, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who participated in the research program.


Lin said the SKC1 gene was cloned from a kind of ancient salt-resistant rice variety native to the Shanghai area. The research results will be published in the Nature Genetics magazine in October.


The genes can effectively control and balance the content of Natrium and Kalium in the part of rice plants growing above the ground and prevent excessive poisonous hydronium from accumulating in stalk and leaves.


A large quantity of Natrium hydronium tends to accumulate in the part of rice plant above the ground when the rice grows in an environment with excessive Natrium and the SKC1 gene can help transport Natrium hydronium back to the root, thus reducing Natrium poisoning.


The SKC1 gene transports Natrium hydronium but not Kalium hydronium. Because of this, excessive Natrium hydronium is transported to the root of rice plant, leaving enough space for Kalium hydronium to flow back to the part of rice plant above the ground, Lin said.


Lin hopes to cooperate with agricultural departments to input the SKC1 gene into quality rice varieties through crossbreeding, thus raising and stabilizing China's rice output.


Rice is one of China's pillar crops. China has 100 million hectares of saline-alkali land, accounting for one-tenth of the world's total. About 8million hectares of arable land in China suffer from serious salinization and the acreage is expanding due to excessive use of fertilizer and persistent droughts.


(Xinhua News Agency September 14, 2005)


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