Scientists identify genes to improve fertilizer nitrogen use efficiency in rice

Scientists identify genes to improve fertilizer nitrogen use efficiency in rice

In a significant boost to the scientific attempts for crop development to store nitrogenous fertilizers and pollution worth billions, Indian biotechnologists recognized candidate genes for nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in rice. This was achieved by Prof. Nandula Raghuram, Dr. Supriya Kumari and Dr. Narendra Sharma in the School of Biotechnology, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi. Analysing over 16,600 genes gathered in their own study and dozens of other people, they systematically pinpointed "62 candidate genes"; they further narrowed them down to "06 high-level goal genes" because of their capability to enhance NUE in rice.

"Annually, urea valued Rs. 50,000 crores (5 billion) is lost from Indian farms, together with wheat and rice accounting for approximately two-thirds of it", says Raghuram, who headed the study. "This reduction roughly equals the yearly government subsidy on urea. We can neither afford such waste of cash, nor the pollution it causes" he states. Since the co-editor of this Indian Nitrogen Assessment (2017), he's worried that India is emerging as a member of the worldwide hotspots of nitrogen contamination of water and atmosphere, negatively impacting our health and climate change. Since the Chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI), he aided Indian authorities pilot that the first ever UN resolution on renewable nitrogen direction in 2019.


"Half of this remedy is located in biological crop improvement, whereas the other half may come from enhancing fertilizer formulations and cropping practices. Rice is an perfect target harvest with this, but the primary challenge was the absence of recognized or predicted receptor goals for crop development. We now offer them to the scientific community to jointly fast forward harvest improvement", says Raghuram 


Supriya Kumari and Narendra Sharma compiled a record of 14,791 rice genes involved in nitrogen reaction and 1,842 genes required with return, totaling 16,633 to start with. They identified 1064 genes common to both for additional shortlisting, as NUE entails both N input signal and grain yield output. "With a collection of genetic and bioinformatic tools, we hierarchically shortlisted them to 62 genes, the majority of which were found on chromosome 3 and 1" states Kumari. Further, "using machine learning programs, we narrowed them down to 6 high priority goal genes" says Sharma. The two Kumari and Sharma are Research Associates at Raghuram's job on 'South Asian Nitrogen Hub' financed by the UK Research and Innovation under the International Challenges Research Fund (GCRF-SANH), throughout the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh.


"NUE is controlled by a lot of genes and shortlisting these is extremely crucial for crop improvement towards NUE", states Dr. Subramanyam Desiraju, co-principal investigator of this SANH endeavor by the Indian Institute of Rice Research, Hyderabad. He collaborated earlier with Raghuram's team from the discovery of this'phenotype' for visually differentiating low and higher NUE cultivars of rice, published in January this year.


In accordance with Indian Nitrogen Assessment, rice is very important for NUE, since it absorbs 37% of all N-fertilizers in India, the greatest one of all plants due to its cheapest NUE. Fertilizers such as urea emit ammonia, which may deposit on particulate matter and also affect human health. Urea also accounts for 77% of agricultural nitrous oxide emission into the Indian environment. Nitrous oxide is 296 times more effective greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in causing climate change. N-fertilizers also lead to water pollution and algal blooms, killing fish and affecting livelihoods.