The tsunami last year brought seawater sweeping over Japanese rice fields, but now British and Japanese researchers are close to developing salt-resistant rice plants, reports the Wall Street Journal. The researchers took an approach called MutMap, which uses bioinformatics and next-gen sequencing to identify markers for traits like salt resistance or plant height. "[Japan's Iwate Biotechnology Research Center's Ryohei] Terauchi and his team have since established a mutant collection for salt tolerance which they are screening for markers," says a press release from The Sainsbury Laboratory. "Once these have been identified, they will be used to develop rice cultivars that can be grown in paddy fields flooded by the tsunami last March." The scientists add that their approach should reduce the time it takes to develop such new crops.
A Better Rice Plant
Jan 24, 2012