Scientists develop drought tolerant rice

A new breakthrough study by scientists has led to the development of a rice crop that is not only drought tolerant but high yielding despite the lack of water.

The crop has been developed by scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the genotypes have been dispersed to other Asian countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Originally, researchers planted different rice genotypes on two separate plots at IRRI headquarters in Los Baños. The field plots were of similar soil fertility and the crops were equally managed apart from receiving different amounts of water.

IRRI scientists were able to identify 26 second-generation aerobic rice genotypes that produced significant yields compared to the first generation crops.

Initial analysis of the research found rice crops grown in drought like conditions show a decrease in plant height, harvest index, and grain yield.

The rice crops subjected to less water yielded 50 percent more than the previous generation and further gains are expected as the cycle is repeated.

“Aerobic rice is a good strategy for coping with the increasing water shortage and ensuring rice food security in tropical regions. A breeding protocol is key to the success of a breeding program in developing new aerobic rice varieties, “said Dule Zhao, one of the authors of the study.

Aerobic rice breeding studies are continuing at IRRI. Researchers are attempting to develop rice crops that are drought tolerant and also weed competitive and high quality.

The study is published in the issue of journal Crop Science. (ANI)

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D. L. Zhao, G. N. Atlin, M. Amante, Ma. Teresa Sta Cruz and A. Kumar; Developing Aerobic Rice Cultivars for Water-Short Irrigated and Drought-Prone Rainfed Areas in the Tropics, Crop Science 2010 50:2268-2276, doi:10.2135/cropsci2010.10.0028

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