National Science Foundation Awards $5.5 Million Grant for Rice Research
MAY 5, 2015 9:02 PM0 COMMENTS

Cornell researchers received a $5.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to use genome editing techniques to improve rice cultivation on Friday.

Genome editing is a process by researchers can alter an organism’s DNA. Cornell researchers will use this grant to “focus on such quantitative traits in rice as disease resistance and tolerance to acidic soils,” according to a University press release.

“We have the ability to open the genome like a book, go to a certain chapter and a specific word and change the word or correct its spelling,” said lead scientist Adam Bogdanove in the release.

This is significant because rice is a “staple crop that feeds half the world’s people,” according to the University. Increasing the quality and reliability of the rice crop could have profound humanitarian implications.

“Scientists are also in a race against time to double the production of cereal crops on limited arable land by 2050, when the global population could reach 9.5 billion,” the University said.

Bogdanove said researchers have already identified section of rice DNA which could present the opportunity for beneficial genome editing.

“Now, we don’t have to do years of breeding; we can just make the precise changes needed in a few short steps,” he said.
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