Biotech Updates

IRRI Aims to Sequence the Genomes of All Different Types of Rice

November 20, 2009

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is asking scientists from all over the world to join in its vision of sequencing the genomes of the more than 109,000 different types of rice contained in the International Rice Genebank. IRRI said that the information will help rice breeders and farmers worldwide breed and develop new and improved rice varieties. IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler also noted that sequencing the genomes will open the door to understanding the rich genetic diversity of the crop, a staple food for more than 50 percent of the world's population.

"All rice types need to be sequenced to capture the entire genetic diversity of rice. Rapidly progressing technologies have made this a realistic goal - achievable within a few years," said Zeigler during the 6th International Rice Genetics Symposium (RG6) held in Manila earlier this week. "New rice varieties developed using the genetic diversity of rice have already helped double rice yields in the last fifty years, helping keep food prices low, averting famine, and preventing many natural ecosystems being converted to farmland."

The RCG6, attended by more than 700 experts in rice science, marks the official launching of the Institute's 50th founding anniversary. The anniversary celebration will include 12 months of special activities to draw the world's attention to rice, including the 3rd International Rice Congress which will take place on November 9-10, 2010 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The rice congress is the world's largest gathering of the rice industry.

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