In Pursuit Of Herbicide-Resistant, High-Yield Rice

The gene HIS1 in rice plants is essential for herbicide resistance, say researchers in Japan.

AsianScientist (Aug. 21, 2019) – In a study published in Science, researchers in Japan have identified a rice gene that renders the crop resistant to several widely used beta-triketone herbicides.

Rice is a staple food for more than 3.5 billion people and is among the world’s most important crops. To meet the demands of the global food supply, herbicides for controlling weeds are required for efficient crop production.

While a useful herbicide is toxic to unwanted plants but harmless to the crop of interest, overuse of individual herbicides can lead to the emergence of weeds resistant to their once-deadly effects. Benzobicyclon (BBC), a beta-triketone herbicide developed for use in rice paddy fields, is effective against paddy weeds resistant to other herbicidal agents. However, BBC is also toxic to several high-yield rice varieties.

To identify the gene responsible for BBC resistance or sensitivity, Dr. Hideo Maeda and colleagues at the Institute of Crop Science, Japan, performed map-based cloning on BBC-resistant and BBC-sensitive rice varieties. The team identified HIS1, a gene that confers resistance to BBC and other beta-triketone herbicides.

HIS1 encodes an oxidase that catalyzes and detoxifies BBC compounds. However, susceptible rice varieties inherited a dysfunctional variant of the HIS1 gene alongside genetic mutations that disable expression of HIS1. Because genes with similar function to HIS1 appear to be widely conserved in other important crop species, the findings of this study could facilitate the breeding of other herbicide-resistant crops as well, said the researchers.

The article can be found at: Maeda et al. (2019) A Rice Gene That Confers Broad-spectrum Resistance to β-triketone Herbicides.


Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science; Photo: Pexels.
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