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New cotton strain to raise output by 25%
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-19 05:48

With this remark, Fan was apparently pointing to the technology's potential power to ease the country's land allocation conflict between grain and cotton crops.

The "three lines" refer to the male-sterile, maintenance and restorer lines in cotton breeding.

Through genetic engineering and conventional breeding, Chinese scientists have manipulated these lines to ensure a hybrid cotton strain that maintains and multiples hybrid heterosis, leading to high quality and high yields, said Zhang Rui, one of Guo's aides.

In addition, the strain's insect resistance efficiency is more than 90 per cent, Zhang said.

Guo's "Yinmian 2" and other strains in the pipeline will enable China to use less acreage to reach its cotton production goals, leaving more cropland for grain production, Fan said.

Fan and a group of government officials and experts inspected Guo's experimental base in Beijing's Pinggu District on Saturday.

The United States began "three-line hybrid cotton" research in 1948, but has failed to find a solution to ensure a desirably high yield of hybrid cotton, let alone a hybrid one with pest-resistance.

Other major cotton growers, such as India, develop hybrid cotton through a laborious inefficient manual breeding method, according to Guo.

Yuan Longping, the world's "father of hybrid rice," said on Saturday he had visited both the US and India to see their hybrid cotton breeding in the 1980s and 1990s.

"I believe China's 'three-line hybrid cotton with insect-resistant gene' is really a world-leading breakthrough," Yuan told China Daily. "Even in its initial stage, it can boost cotton production by 25 per cent. This is a great feat."
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