Chinese scientists have succeeded in isolating and cloning heat-tolerant genes from African rice strains, which could help develop rice varieties that can withstand climate change brought by global warming.
Lin Hongxuan, an academician with the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said on Thursday that high heat, normally temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius, reduces rice production.
Heat stress can strain rice proteins and cause the plant to wither. Lin's team found that a gene isolated from the African rice strain can automatically activate when heat strikes. It works to remove toxic proteins whose accumulation leads to the plant's death.
Lin said his team has conducted field studies growing Asian rice strains with the transplanted gene that show the gene's dominant traits enable the plant to withstand high temperatures.
He said the cloned gene can be transplanted to develop new varieties of rice, wheat and cruciferous vegetables such as Chinese cabbage.