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New rice lines for Africa offer virus protection


by Arne Claussen, Heinrich-Heine University Duesseldorf
Rice yellow mottle virus (RYMV) is responsible for high crop losses in Africa, particularly among small-scale farmers. A research team has now produced rice lines that are resistant to the disease by means of genome editing.

The rice varieties, the development of which the team describes in Plant Biotechnology Journal, are a preliminary step toward being able to generate resistant locally adapted elite varieties for small-scale food producers in Africa.

RYMV is an RNA virus spread by beetles and direct leaf-to-leaf contact. In Africa, where the majority of producers farm plots of land barely one hectare in size, between ten and one hundred percent of the rice harvests are regularly lost to this virus. This makes it a life-threatening problem for the poorest farmers.

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