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Checkbiotech: Genetically engineering rice: New breeds resistant to diseases and pests
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: September 03, 2005 07:31AM ; ;

To improve rice quality and yields, the National Centre for Genetic
Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec) has developed new breeds of jasmine
rice that are tolerant of drought, pests and disease, September 2005 by
Pongpen Sutharoj.

The new rice breeds are the result of a research project on rice genomes.
Understanding the rice genome will help scientists to develop new rice
varieties with traits such as higher yield, improved nutrition content, and
better resistance to diseases and pests.

Biotec?s director Morakot Tanticharoen said the centre?s researchers had
applied information from the International Rice Genome Sequencing Project,
which cracked the genome of the Japanese aromatic rice Nipponbare, to
develop new breeds of Thai rice.

The International Rice Genome Sequencing Project is a collaborative project
among 10 nations to break the genetic code of rice. Thailand is also one of
the participants, along with the United States, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, South
Korea, Britain, France, Brazil and India.

The results of the study have been put in the public domain, so any country
can use them in its own developments.

Morakot said the researchers used the information to further develop jasmine
rice. Even though the rice genome information in the project is based on
Japanese rice, she said the genome information could also be adapted to
other species including jasmine rice, as the DNA structures of individual
rice species do not vary greatly.

The centre has studied sequence data from the project to develop a new breed
of rice that can resist flooding, a major problem for rice farmers as it
causes damage and loss of productivity.

Morakot said the new breed has already been tested in many provinces and the
result was satisfactory. ?We found that our new breed can resist flooding
well. It offers higher productivity at 303 kilograms per rai, compared to
the old breed that provides only 50 kilograms per rai,? she said.

In addition to flood tolerance, the centre has also developed two other
breeds of jasmine rice.

They can resist bacterial leaf blight and leaf blast disease, which are
major threats.

The director said the two breeds were also being tested. However, to further
improve jasmine rice, the team is now working to combine three key traits -
resistance to drought, bacterial leaf blight, and leaf blast disease - into
one breed so the new breed could tolerate every situation. The project is
likely to move into field trials next year.

From the study of rice genomes, Morakot said the research team could also
understand the DNA sequence of jasmine rice that offered its unique

?From this knowledge we can develop a process to turn rice with no fragrance
into fragrant rice,? she said.

The centre has submitted a patent registration for the process and it?s now
waiting for approval. The centre also plans further study on rice genomes to
give rice special qualities, for example finding genes related to the
quality of rice when cooked in different ways.


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