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PSTOL1: Potential to Increase rice yield using the land race Kasalath

PSTOL1: Potential to Increase rice yield using the land race Kasalath

Rice geneticists have isolated a gene that facilitates rice plants to generate around 20% more grain by enhancing uptake of a vital essential element, namely, phosphorus. The gene designated PSTOL (Phosphorus Starvation Tolerance), can significantly increase rice yield grown in phosphorus-deficient soil and also helps regulate the early crown root development and root growth in rice. The same gene also helps rice plants enhance higher uptake of other nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium, thereby reducing dependency of the rice plant on enhanced dose of fertilizers for grain production. The gene was isolated from a variety of rice named Kasalath which is claimed by the authors to be an Indian variety. The paper has been published in weekly Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v488/n7412/full/nature11346.html). Contrary to the claim by the authors, there is clear evidence that Kasalath has evolved through natural selection in Sylhet – the north eastern part of Bangladesh, which is well outside the Indian border.  Of relevance here is that the word Kasalath, is derived from the dialect of the eastern Sylhet district of Bangladesh, the original Bengali word being Kacha Lota (green shoots). In Sylheti dialect Kacha is ‘Kasa’, and Lota is ‘lot’. Kasalot is an extant land race grown in eastern Bangladesh for many decades. The discovery demonstrates the importance of conserving the genetic diversity of traditional crop varieties such as Kasalath. The discovery of genes like PSTOL1, is a major breakthrough in the development of rice production in phosphorus deficient soil around the globe. It is high time that the claim by Bangladesh about the origin of Kasalot in her territory be given due recognition forthwith putting an end once for all to the controversy. In the backdrop of the tremendous benefit, the whole human race is deriving from Kasalath, the world community of rice geneticists need to set the record straight.

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