As a result of climate change, salinity is increasing in the southern part of the country. In addition to salinity, rice cultivation is being disrupted in flood-prone lowlands and drought-prone northern regions. The researchers of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) are moving forward in rice research in biotechnology to deal with this problem. Recently, through research activities, it has been possible to produce cultivable salt tolerant transgenic rice in the coastal areas of the southern part of the country.
The genetic engineering and biotechnology (GEB) department researchers are conducting the research to develop this new variety of rice. In addition, different types of stress tolerant genes have been identified from wild rice. Among them, salinity tolerant STL-1, waterlogging tolerant SUB-1A1 and SK-1 and drought tolerant WRKY-2 were developed, from which the first constructs were produced in SUST through genetic engineering.
It is known that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded research to develop this salt tolerant rice using biotechnology. The related research paper has been published in Elsevier's journal Biotechnology Reporters. The research program is carried out in the University's own transgenic greenhouse lab of the Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. The developed rice variety is currently being monitored in the field. Apart from this, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute and Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Department of SUST are conducting new research activities on salt tolerant rice production.
Three salt-tolerant genes have already been identified from wild rice, which have been introduced into improved varieties of rice through genetic engineering to produce salt-tolerant transgenic rice. Research activities are being conducted on the issue of salt tolerance not only in rice but also in other crops.
A master's thesis student named Zeba Faizah Rahman is doing her research in the Plant Genetic Engineering Lab. He said that various gene constructs have been made in the lab. These genes play a role in keeping plants alive in adverse environments including salinity, drought and waterlogging. This gene construct will be transferred into high-yielding rice varieties developed by Brie using various biotechnological methods. Gene transfer can improve these rice varieties into salinity, drought and waterlogging tolerant varieties. In this, high-yielding rice varieties can be cultivated even in the adverse environment regions of the country and as a result, more rice production will be possible.
Professor Dr. Md. Shamsul Haque Pradhan of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology said that cultivable land is decreasing in Bangladesh every year due to various reasons. As the population of the country is increasing at present, we have to feed this increased population.
The main objective of our research is how to produce rice in our uncultivable lands, especially the saline lands in the south, the waterlogged lands of Sunamganj and the drought-prone lands in the north. We have already developed transgenic rice seedlings that are tolerant to sea salt water. How to expand its range in the future, especially for production of waterlogging tolerant and drought tolerant rice is under way.