Crop Biotech Update

Increased Production of Asian Rice with the Genes from African Rice

May 27, 2011

Efforts to make the high yielding Asian rice Oryza sativa more sturdy against plant pests as well as to water and salinity is being conducted at the French Institute for Research and Development (IRD). Oryza glaberrima, the rice species cultivated in Africa will be the source of the genes for these traits. However, getting viable seed from the cross between the two rice species is difficult because of reproductive barrier, considered one of the central mechanisms of evolution.

Studies at IRD and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture are now focused on the sterility gene S1. It appears that the same gene is responsible for both the male and female sterility phenomenon. The research work published in PloS One compares the structure of the S1 gene in the two rice species. Geneticists have found that genetic changes have occurred during the evolutionary process. The research team has already identified genetic markers that will allow breeding of the two species despite the presence of the reproductive barrier.

See the article in French at  http://www.ird.fr/la-mediatheque/fiches-d-actualite-scientifique/373-augmenter-la-production-grace-aux-genes-du-riz-africain