Efforts over the last 50 years to boost food production have relied on increasing the yield of dwarf varieties of rice and wheat, using large quantities of chemical fertiliser in areas with poor soil. Increased fertiliser use means increased cost to farmers and fertiliser run-off brings water pollution issues. India accounts for almost half of the global imports for phosphorus fertilisers.
This Newton-Bhabha Fellowship project looked at the way root systems in rice acquire water and nutrients. Researchers discovered the key genes that control the rice root traits that improve the plant’s ability to forage for phosphate in low nutrient soils. This is providing innovative new tools to advance the performance of rice varieties and minimise the use of phosphate fertilisers for rice production.
The development of new rice varieties able to grow efficiently in low nutrient soils promises to have major economic impact by supporting the sustainable intensification of agriculture and reducing environmental pollution.
“Our Indian-UK project will generate novel rice genotypes able to grow on low nutrient soils and minimise phosphate fertilizer imports, use and environmental pollution.”
Professor Malcolm Bennett
To Engineer Elite Rice Genotypes Which Can Sustain Under Low Phosphate Conditions in Soils Without Compromising Yield
Lead PI: Professor Malcolm Bennett, Future Food Beacon at the University of Nottingham, UK
Lead PI: Dr. Jitender Giri, National Institute for Plant Genome Research in New Delhi, India
Project partners: British Council
Department for Biotechnology, India