Researchers at the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have worked for more than a decade to come up with a new kind of rice with a brittle stem that won't be knocked down even by strong winds.
The researchers have been working on genetic-molecular study of the mechanism of brittle stem mutants in rice and they began their work on ion beam breeding by exposing seeds to irradiation from heavy ion beans. They identified 22 different brittle stem mutants, of which four new mutants were cloned and analyzed for gene function.
They then confirmed the best candidate, the brittle stem mutant IBC, which was expressed for a certain amount of time and only after flowering does the rice stem become brittle, this would reduce the risk of it being knocked down during the growing season.
What's more exciting to the researchers was that IBC is expressed only in certain specific regions, such as the stem. As for other parts, such as leaves, they are not included.
Based on previous breeding and harvesting efforts, the researchers started a cross and then made a new rice. They named it Kefujing 1, meaning a type of rice produced through scientific irradiation in Chinese.
As the researchers expected, Kefujing 1's stem was more brittle, making it easier to cut and smash.
A series of wind tunnel experiments were conducted to test how strong winds the stem could withstand. They were pleased to see that Kefujing 1 had passed the tests. It could even stand up in high winds of up to force nine.
In addition, the composition test showed that the cellulose and lignin contents of Kefujing 1 decreased by 11.9% and 16.6%, respectively, and the hemicellulose content increased by 15.7%, making it a better animal feed stem.
Now, the team is planning to build a recycling operation by providing technology all through the entire chain from seed breeding to stem-based animal feeding.
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