250 g rice from a single maize-rice hybrid plant announced by China

Maize rice” developed in Henan, China

SeedQuest Announcement
China
October 14, 2010

Recently, over 30 experts from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Henan Provincial Department of Science and Technology and Department of Agriculture, and some other organizations were so glad and excited to see a new type of rice with a single plant output of 250 grams in the experiment field of Henan Fengyuan Seed Company in Xinxiang. Such plant is called “maize rice” by farmers because like maize, it is over two meters high and has both broad and long leaves, dense aerial roots, erect and compact ears, and big and plump seeds.

This new rice line characterized by strong resistance against lodging, pest and disease and high yield was developed by Xinxiang Distant-origin Molecular Breeding Engineering Technical Research Center jointly established by the College of Life Sciences of Henan Normal University and Henan Fengyuan Seed Company in Xinxiang. This center successfully induced DNA fragments of maize into rice through in-situ induction of germplasm cells with the technique of transferring big molecules of distant origin rather than mediators that easily produce harmful substances. Such practice enabled rich variations in rice that would help to raise resistance and yield. Maize rice is one of germplasms selected by this center through multiple field tests, which could be used to develop new rice varieties with high resistance and high yield. 
Ji Shengdong, teacher of the College of Life Sciences of Henan Normal University, said that they would develop a new variety of such maize rice with a yield of over 850 kg per mu (12750 kg per ha) within 2-3 years.
More news from: China, Ministry of Agriculture
Website: http://www.agri.gov.cn
Published: October 18, 2010
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David Tribe

Written by David Tribe

David Tribe’s research career in academia and industry has covered molecular genetics, biochemistry, microbial evolution and biotechnology. He has over 60 publications and patents. Dr. Tribe's recent activities focus on agricultural policy and food risk management. He teaches graduate programs in food science and risk management as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Melbourne.

12 comments

  1. I’m pretty skeptical of the claim – from the wording (which seems to be a bad translation – I need to ask colleagues to translate the original chinese for me) it looks like they just whacked huge gobs of the corn genome into rice and presto-magnifico got awesome rice – extraordinary claims and extraordinary evidence and all that.
    Sounds like rice that tall would be seriously prone to lodging and I doubt that randomly whacking DNA about is going to bring about the morphological changes required to alter a plant so significantly.
    Would be awesome however if true, but then so would a lot of things.

  2. There will be some delay… apparently my Chinese colleagues don’t have their computers set up to get the chinese characters to display on the website (which apparently is the right website according to USDA links to various world organizations)

  3. Agreed on the skepticism, that’s why I called it crazy – pictures of something like this would be worth a lot in determining whether or not it is real. I poked around the site with no luck finding anything in english or relevant images.

  4. it is over two meters high and has both broad and long leaves, dense aerial roots, erect and compact ears, and big and plump seeds.

    Sounds to me like someone grew corn to be honest! (still nothing but tumbleweed from my Chinese colleagues)

  5. While we’re waiting, let’s recognize that the Chinese have been working to try to get the corn plant’s efficient photosynthetic pathway to work in rice.
    When I went to baidu, the Chinese search engine, and put in the characters for corn (玉米), rice (米), and gene (基因), several academic papers popped up. None was the one I was looking for.
    I wish I knew more Chinese.

  6. According to my Chinese colleagues this story does not appear in the chinese version of the website – I can’t vouch for how much time they spent looking – they both also expressed extreme incredulity at the claims both of end results and means of getting there – essentially the same response as anyone I’ve spoken to – and I’m relatively confident that the folk I speak with know their stuff when it comes to talking about transgenic approaches to yield improvement etc (myself, not so much!)

  7. Well, there’s this bit:
    RAPD Analysis of Hereditary and Variation of Maize Rice Developed by Ion Beam Mediated Transferring Maize DNA into Rice, Institute of Plasma Physice, Chinese Academy of Science http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-JGSW199904004.htm
    “Eight maize rice line, developed by low energy ion beammediated transferring maize DNA into rice EI213, have stronger root system and exhibit purple red character of maize in shoot, glumal tip and stigma. Also the photosynthetic efficiency of maize rice have increased by averaged 84% compared with that of the EI213.”

  8. True or not, the whole issue of China was brought to mind the other day in the lengthy discussions with Bernarda over corporate control of things such as GM (Miricle Plants). In the end, it doesn’t matter what the Americans or Europeans do or think regarding GM. China will deploy such technologies with little hesitation or restriction, relative to the “west”. One would assume also they would/will do so with little, if any, corporate involvement. A crude, somewhat mangled, Google translation (Babblefish) from the Ministry of Agriculture web site :
    “GM China ascendant, science and technology advances, research results are emerging, international influence is growing. For individual multinational companies on developing countries with the implementation of all of its hegemony in the patent act, we firmly oppose. GM China has its own advantages, we are not a sheep!”

  9. Pdiff,
    I lean strongly in the direction of your interpretation of the China situation. Even though we get very little information on China’s R&D pipeline, indications are that the country might have a pipeline as robust as in the US, or even greater.
    It’s good to remember that China is still a dictatorship, and can do anything it wants. Thing is, it’s probably the world’s most prosperous dictatorship.
    All this indicates China being in a position to bring new GM crops at a whim.
    But it doesn’t answer the question: Why have the Chinese kept the lid on Bt rice for nearly a decade?

  10. “It’s good to remember that China is still a dictatorship, and can do anything it wants.”
    if you stop to think a moment. that’s not true. china is a ONE PARTY state, which is completely different than a country where ONE GUY decides everything.
    within the party (which btw has 70+ MILLION members), there are various in-fighting going on, just like here in the US, so decision can go different ways.
    the one big advantage they have is that once a decision is made, you don’t get the wishy washy swinging that goes on here (e.g. in the solar rebates, etc) everytime the opposite party gains power every 4 years or so.

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