The Use of Human Protein Helps Boost Potato and Rice Yields By 50 Percent

By: | August 26th, 2021

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

In a big breakthrough, scientists have come with an innovative idea to deal with the worldwide rise in food insecurity. Scientists discovered that inserting a gene linked to human obesity and fat into crops could help them increase their yield and make them more resistant to drought.

In the study, researchers manipulated the RNA of potato and rice plants by adding a gene called FTO. In humans, FTO is a gene linked to obesity, but in crops, it dramatically improves plant growth and crop yield.

Regular potato harvest next to growth-enhanced potato harvest ( Image courtesy: Qiong Yu et. al.)

So, the team inserted a single gene called FTO into potato and rice plants. As a result, the modified plants grew much larger and produced much higher yields. Researchers found that the resultant yield was three times more in the lab. However, it was 50 percent more in the field. Moreover, the plants also grew longer root systems that helped them better survive in drought conditions.

Chuan He, Lead researcher of the study said, “The change really is dramatic. What’s more, it worked with almost every type of plant we tried it with so far, and it’s a very simple modification to make.”

He added, “This really provides the possibility of engineering plants to potentially improve the ecosystem as global warming proceeds,” 

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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