GUWAHATI, April 11: The genome sequencing of seven wild rice varieties has filly been completed. As a rice growing State, this breakthrough is considered as very good news among the agricultural experts in Assam.
Talking to The Sentinel, Mowsam Hazarika, a State agriculture extensionist at the IRRI, said: “This development will provide opportunities for breeders worldwide in developing better rice varieties that would respond positively to the changing needs of the farmers and consumers alike.”
“This breakthrough opens the doors for rice breeders to harness genes from the wild relatives of rice, allowing us to improve crops with traits that are preferred by farmers and consumers. It will also bring us steps closer to our goal of ensuring global food and nutrition security through sustaible rice production,” he added.
The study details the generation of seven wild and two cultivated genomes (IR8 and N22). The IR8, popularly known as “miracle rice,” was developed by rice scientists from the Intertiol Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IR8 was one of the rice varieties that ushered in the Green Revolution in Asia during the 1960s and prevented worldwide starvation and famine.
Hazarika also said, “The cultivation of rice, the staple food of Assam, faces challenges including the threat of climate change and the onslaught of pests and diseases. The genetic traits that allow crops to overcome most, if not all, of these stresses can frequently be found in the wild relatives of rice. This research could significantly improve the rice breeding scerio, allowing shorter periods for genetic discovery and varietal improvements that would normally take years to develop.”
“The wild relatives of rice are adapted to different biogeography ranges and can tolerate many biotic and abiotic stresses, they continue to be an important reservoir for crop improvement. Strategies to harness such traits show clear promise to meet the future consumption demand”, Hazarika added.
It may be mentioned that the global population is projected to increase by almost 3 billion by 2050, rice breeders urgently need to develop new and sustaible rice varieties with higher yield, healthier grains and reduced environmental footprints. The completed sequencing of the seven wild rice varieties is a significant progress to drive further genome evolution and domestication.
It is expected that the production of rice in Assam will soon meet significant heights as the breeders will now easily be able to develop new rice verities, which are sustaible in changing climatic condition.