Metabolic Studies for
Seedling Vigor - 96



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Project Leader and Principal UC Investigators

Teresa W-M. Fan, Assistant research biochemist, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, UC Davis

James E. Hill, Extension Agronomist and Chair, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, UC Davis

Michael D. Carriere, graduate student, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, UC Davis

The overall objective of this project is to characterize the metabolic mechanism - or mechanisms - that contribute to increased seedling vigor of rice varieties cultivated in California's water-seeded, continuously flooded rice culture.

Tolerance to low oxygen conditions is an important component of seedling vigor, so researchers designed two series of experiments subjecting seedlings of 30 rice cultivars to oxygen deficient treatments. This enabled them to screen metabolic characteristics among cultivars differing in submergence tolerance.

This research revealed several biochemical changes common to the seedlings of various submergence-tolerant rice cultivars under low oxygen conditions. In particular, higher accumulation of the amino acid, alanine, was found to be associated with the submergence tolerance trait in a hybrid between California's M-202 and a submergence-tolerant variety from the International Rice Research Institute. Alanine is believed to have beneficial effects on the cellular metabolism of oxygen-deficient plants.

Researchers believe they can exploit knowledge of these biochemical changes to enhance seedling survival under oxygen deficient conditions. They have begun an experiment with genetically related rice hybrids, provided by the USDA geneticist at UC Davis, to help identify submergence tolerance genes. They are "very encouraged" by initial results and plan to pursue the project in hopes of establishing the submergence tolerance trait in California rice varieties.

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