New genes `may save wet wheat`

Scientists claim to be investigating rice and seabarley grass for genes which will help wheat to survive waterlogged and saline soils.

Last Updated: May 15, 2010, 12:56 PM IST

Washington: Scientists claim to be investigating rice and seabarley grass for genes which will help wheat to survive waterlogged and saline soils.

An international team, led by University of Western Australia, is searching for the genetic waterlogging secrets of sea barleygrass to know what genes allow rice to grow in similar environments.
The scientists` objective is to find at the cellular level how the plant`s waterlogging tolerance genes are expressed in its roots. One important genetic trait, which enhances the oxygen supply to the plant`s roots in waterlogged soils, creates a barrier that prevents oxygen loss.
"The known candidate genes associated with the waterlogging tolerance of rice will be searched for in the sea barley grass and the CRC`s salt tolerant wheat hybrid," Prof Tim Colmer, who led the team, said.

Another scientist Dr Katsuhiro Shiono has already made a valuable contribution to the research. His findings resulted in a better understanding of barrier induction dynamics that prevents oxygen loss in waterlogging tolerant plants, similar to a snorkel that allows oxygen to come down through the plant to supply the roots with oxygen.

PTI