Supercomputer May Help Develop Super-rice

Amidst concerns of global food shortage,  the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and the  University of Washington (UW) are teaming up for a project that may pave the way for the development of hardier rice varieties that would produce more nutritious grains. Through its World Community Grid, IBM will tap unused computing power from more than one million personal computers to run a three-dimensional modeling software developed by UW scientists to study rice proteins. Knowledge of the proteins’ 3D structure will be essential in pinpointing which ones could provide protection against pests and diseases and help rice produce more grains. The project’s end product will be a comprehensive map of the 30,000 to 60,000 rice proteins and their functions.

"This project could ultimately help farmers around the world plant better crops and stave off hunger for some," said Stanley Litow, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation. The grid has an estimated processing power of 167 teraflops, equivalent to one of the top three supercomputers in the world. With access to the Grid, researchers could generate results in less than two years, instead of the 200 years that would be required to complete the mammoth task.

Read more at To donate unused computer time, download the software from


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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