A new study on “Genomic variation in 3,010 diverse accessions of Asian cultivated rice” maps the largest set of genomic variations for a crop species. And the new information can lead to faster and more accurate development of varieties suited to various agricultural environments, especially for unfavorable rice-growing areas where the poorest and most vulnerable farmers reside. Plant breeders can make more intelligent choices in selecting traits for improved varieties that farmers can cultivate, according to Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, International Rice Research Institute Deputy Director General for Research.
A collaboration among IRRI, the Institute of Crop Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), BGI-Shenzhen, and 13 other partner institutions, the research will enable scientists to discover new gene variants and characterize known genes for important traits, such as the natural ability of a particular variety to resist diseases and withstand floods, drought, and salty water. Additionally, molecular breeders could use the genetic markers to select rice plants that are more likely to carry a desired trait before they are planted in the field.
“What could previously take up to 40 years from trait discovery to varietal development can now only take just a few years,” says Dr. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, IRRI principal scientist and head of the International Rice Genebank at IRRI. (Press Release)