Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rice Plants That Resist Uptake Of Arsenic Could Ease Shortage

Date:
May 7, 2008
Source:
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Summary:
Genetically engineered rice plants that resist the uptake of toxic metals could boost production and ease the shortage of this staple crop in Asia, India and Bangladesh, where irrigation with contaminated groundwater has created soils with toxic levels of arsenic. More than 80 percent of the world's population depends on rice as a staple food, but production is dropping in the rice paddies of Bangladesh, parts of India and South and East Asia due to toxic levels of arsenic in the topsoil. Om Parkash of the University of Massachusetts Amherst leads a research team that uses genetic engineering to produce rice plants that block the uptake of arsenic, which could increase production of this valuable crop and provide safer food supplies for millions.

Genetically engineered rice plants that resist the uptake of toxic metals could boost production and ease the shortage of this staple crop in Asia, India and Bangladesh, where irrigation with contaminated groundwater has created soils with toxic levels of arsenic.

More than 80 percent of the world’s population depends on rice as a staple food, but production is dropping in the rice paddies of Bangladesh, parts of India and South and East Asia due to toxic levels of arsenic in the topsoil. Om Parkash of the University of Massachusetts Amherst leads a research team that uses genetic engineering to produce rice plants that block the uptake of arsenic, which could increase production of this valuable crop and provide safer food supplies for millions.

“By increasing the activity of certain genes, we can create strains of rice that are highly resistant to arsenic and other toxic metals,” says Parkash, a professor of plant, soil and insect sciences. “Rice plants modified in this way accumulate several-fold less arsenic in their above-ground tissues, and produce six to seven times more biomass, making the rice safer to eat and more productive.” This could help alleviate the current world-wide rice shortage.

Deep tube wells installed to provide drinking water in Bangladesh and other countries are producing water with naturally occurring levels of arsenic that greatly exceed safe limits in drinking water. Groundwater is then being used to irrigate rice paddies, and this irrigation is causing a buildup of arsenic in topsoils that is toxic to the rice plants, reducing the amount of rice that can be produced in a given area.

According to Parkash, arsenic builds up in all parts of the plant, including the rice grains used for food, creating health problems in hundreds of thousands of people, including several forms of cancer. Arsenic is also present in the rice straw used as animal fodder, causing arsenic to enter the food chain in dairy products and meat, and affecting the health of animals.

“Already on the Indian subcontinent, particularly in Bangladesh and West Bengal, there are more than 300,000 people who have developed cancer from arsenic poisoning by drinking contaminated water and eating contaminated food,” says Parkash. “The World Health Organization has dubbed this one of the major environmental disasters in human history.”

Parkash is currently working with the UMass Amherst Office of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property and several interested companies to bring this technology to the marketplace. “Basically, the companies will use our gene constructs in new or existing rice lines, producing hybrid rice that will go through the cultivation and seed production stage,” says Parkash. “Then the new strains of rice will be commercialized and brought to market.”

Parkash’s research is funded through the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center from the Office of the President of the University of Massachusetts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Massachusetts Amherst. "Rice Plants That Resist Uptake Of Arsenic Could Ease Shortage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080505224659.htm>.
University of Massachusetts Amherst. (2008, May 7). Rice Plants That Resist Uptake Of Arsenic Could Ease Shortage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080505224659.htm
University of Massachusetts Amherst. "Rice Plants That Resist Uptake Of Arsenic Could Ease Shortage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080505224659.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins