A new study opens the possibility of accelerating rice breeding to help
achieve food security for some of the world's most vulnerable rice farmers.
A collaboration among the International Rice Research Institute (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 and breeders to discover new gene variants and
characterize known genes for important traits, such as disease resistance
and tolerance to 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.
Results of the research revealed that, among the 3,000 rice genomes, there
are significant variations in gene content and immense sequence variation.
Researchers identified more than 10,000 new rice genes and over 29 million
simple variations throughout the genome. Additionally, within the two major
rice variety groups, the analysis revealed the existence of previously
unreported populations that are unique to specific geographic origins. Other
evidence revealed that Asian rice was domesticated multiple times thousands
of years ago.
"This information leads 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,"
says Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, IRRI's Deputy Director General for Research.
Dr. Kenneth McNally, IRRI senior scientist, said that this is the largest
set of genomic variants discovered for a crop species that is freely and
publicly available for plant breeders and scientists across the world. It
already serves as material for training a new generation of plant