Crop Biotech Update

Wild Rice from Crocodile-Infested Waters in Australia May Help Boost Global Food Security

January 24, 2018

Professor Robert Henry from the Queensland Alliance of Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) have mapped the genetic family tree of wild rice growing in northern Australia's crocodile-infested waters. According to Professor Henry, wild rice could help boost global food security as its valuable traits such as drought tolerance and pest and disease resistance – can be bred into commercial rice strains.

"Northern Australia's wild rices contain a wealth of untapped genetic diversity and at least two species are very closely related to domesticated rice, so they can be cross-bred with this species," Professor Henry said. The research revealed that in the era when the ancient human ancestor known as Lucy lived in Africa, a genetic divergence occurred in the rice variety that is now found only in northern Australia. This divergence led to the Asian and African rice species commonly used in commercial rice production today.

Professor Henry added that Australian wild rice may have more beneficial health qualities than other rice species. A University of Queensland (UQ) doctoral thesis study on the grain quality of Australian wild rice showed the species had the lowest "hardness" of cooked rices, and a higher amylose starch content.

For more details, read the QAAFI news article.