Published on: September 28, 2021
NON-GM RICE VARIETIES
What is in news : The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed the country’s first-ever non-GM (genetically modified) herbicide-tolerant rice varieties
Names : Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985
- Can be directly seeded and significantly save water and labour compared to conventional transplanting
- Simply replace water with Imazethapyr and there’s no need for nursery, puddling, transplanting and flooding of fields
- Contain a mutated acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene
- Imazethapyr, effective against a range of broadleaf, grassy and sedge weeds, can’t be used on normal paddy, as the chemical does not distinguish between the crop and the invasive plants.
- The ALS gene in rice codes for an enzyme (protein) that synthesises amino acids for crop growth and development. The herbicide sprayed on normal rice plants binds itself to the ALS enzymes, inhibiting their production of amino acids.
- The new basmati varieties contain an ALS gene whose DNA sequence has been altered using ethyl methanesulfonate, a chemical mutant. As a result, the ALS enzymes no longer have binding sites for Imazethapyr and amino acid synthesis isn’t inhibited. The plants can also now “tolerate” application of the herbicide, and hence it kills only the weeds.