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Rice gene breakthrough

CHINESE scientists said yesterday that they had identified a gene that has played a key role in increasing the yield of China's high-yielding super rice.

The gene, called dep1, can accelerate the division of rice cells and produce more grains.

Researcher Fu Xiangdong, from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said his team has found dep1 in high-yielding rice varieties grown in the Yangtze Plain and northeastern China.

Fu said the gene could have a similar function in other crops such as wheat and barley, raising hopes of breeding high-yielding cereal varieties.

A research paper has been accepted by the journal Nature Genetics and already appears in its Advance Online Publication.

The Ministry of Agriculture launched its super-rice strains project in 1996. The yields of some varieties now exceed 12,000 kilograms per hectare.


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