DNA code of rice revealed
Last Updated Wed, 10 Aug 2005 15
Researchers from 10 countries have completed sequencing of the rice genome. Their success should speed up improvements to the crop that feeds more than half the world's population.
Investigators discovered the temperate Oryza sativa subspecies japonica contains 37,544 genes on 12 chromosomes.
Rice has been central to human nutrition and culture for 10,000 years.
INDEPTH: Genetics & Reproduction
Scientists hope the sequence will speed up effort to find genes to improve the yield, nutritional content, and disease and pest resistance qualities of rice.
Consumption trends suggest about 4.6 billion people will rely on rice crops by 2025, meaning rice production would need to increase 30 per cent, according to a study cited by the team.
The rice genome can guide scientists who are looking for similar genes in other crops. It's thought the genes crop up in roughly the same places in corn, wheat, barley, rye, sorghum and sugarcane as in rice.
The rice sequence has already been used to identify genes for flowering.
According to the United Nations, rice now provides 20 per cent of the world's dietary energy supply, with wheat supplying 19 per cent and corn five per cent.
The results of the six-year study appear in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.