Chinese scientists have succeeded in developing clonal seeds from hybrid rice, said an online paper published in Nature Biotechnology Friday night.
The team, led by Wang Kejian, from the China National Rice Research Institute and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, conducted simultaneous genome engineering of meiosis and fertilization genes in developing the clonal seeds.
Usually, beneficial phenotypes are lost in subsequent generations owing to genetic segregation. But with the clonal seeds, the heterosis, or hybrid vigor of the hybrid rice, can be passed on to produce high-yielding crops.
“The success has proved the feasibility of apomixis for hybrid rice, which is significant theoretically. I hope that with their further research, the seeds will be put into production soon,” said Yuan Longping, the “father of hybrid rice.”
Statistics show that China has planted 16 million hectares of hybrid rice, about 57 percent of the total planting area of rice across the country. The annual output of hybrid rice is about 2.5 million tonnes.