Friday, 15 May 2009

Super rice hybrids on the anvil

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:City agricultural scientists have overcome a major hurdle in the development of super rice hybrids that will increase the overall farm yield in the country.
Super rice is the second generation hybrid rice with higher yields. While Japan and China have made remarkable progress in this area with their own varieties of rice, Indian scientists thus far faced a major hurdle in crossing the parents of Indian and Japanese rice varieties to obtain super rice hybrids. A team of scientists at the city-based Directorate of Rice Research has successfully overcome the hurdle and produced super rice hybrids.
Indica-japonica (Japanese rice variety) gives better yields than Indica-indica (Indian rice variety). The Japanese variety has several advantages over the Indian variety. The problem, however, has been the crossing between Indica-Japonica parents which are often sterile and hence not fit for cross breeding.
A few successful inter-sub specific crosses involve parents possessing wide-compatibility genes which help overcome this hybrid sterility. The city DRR team successfully identified WCG genes to facilitate development super rice hybrids.
The team used simple sequence repeat markers to find out the allele that gives hybrid sterility. The sterility was tracked in three mapping populations derived from indica/japonica parents including Taipei309 and Swarna/Taipei309.
The team incorporated WCG into the parental lines in hybrid rice breeding to solve sterility in inter-specific hybrids.
According to scientists, super rice or new plant type hybrid rice gives 20 per cent more yield than the conventional rice varieties. Though China and Japan have achieved remarkable progress in super rice, the technology can not be easily transferred to India due to technical problems. With the city scientists now overcoming the problem, Indian farmers will soon grow super rice hybrid varieties. The super rice has also improved disease and insect-pest resistance.

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