(ECNS) -- The Frizzy Panicle (FZP) of rice can mutate in nature, according to Chinese scientists, with the finding set to help increase rice yields by 15 percent.
A research team led by Professor Xing Yongzhong at the College of Life Science and Technology, Huangzhong Agricultural University, has published a paper in Nature Plants, a subsidiary of international journal Nature, that explains the close relationship between rice yields and the FZP gene.
The gene could prevent the creation of an axillary meristem and help their transition into a floral meristem, Xing told Shanghai-based The Paper.
FZP is a key developmental gene in rice, and its encoded protein can't be altered, Xing said. However, scientists could increase rice yields by controlling the expression contents of FZP. When the function of FZP is strengthened, rice particles will be bigger while their number decreases, and vice versa.
In rice samples from some East-Asia regions, including India and Bangladesh, Xing's team found 18bp fragments of FZP had mutated in nature and caused copy number variation (CNV). The mutation connected two 18bp fragments in series, and the improved gene sequence could help increase yields.
Increasing the grains of each rice spike was the most useful way to increase production, Xing said, adding that his research team was still trying to find further ways to maximize rice yields.