Scientists Developing Salt-Tolerant Rice
Scientists are developing a salt-resistant variety of rice, a move prompted, in part, by last year’s Japan tsunami, which flooded some 20,000 hectares of rice paddies. The rice varieties Japanese farmers were growing in those paddies couldn’t survive in salt-contaminated soil.
The new method hones in on the precise changes in a gene responsible for changes in a trait, which should make it easier to figure out how the gene works. Scientists have already improved the salt tolerance of a high-quality rice variety in greenhouse experiments and expect to have it ready for farmers in a couple years – far sooner than conventional breeding would take. This new method could cut the time needed to develop other varieties and other crops as well.