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USDA Geneticist Wins Technology Transfer Award / February 7, 2001 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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USDA Geneticist Wins Technology Transfer Award

By Ben Hardin
February 7, 2001

BEAUMONT, Tex., Feb. 7—Anna M. McClung, a geneticist who heads up a rice research unit here for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, has won a technology transfer award for her leadership and research on rice.

Working with the rice industry and colleagues of Texas A&M University, she recently helped develop several new rice varieties and breeding lines that resist diseases and that produce grain that’s better favored by processors and consumers.

McClung will be among eight teams and individuals engaged in technology transfer that ARS will honor Feb. 7 at a 1 p.m. ceremony at the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland.

Jefferson and Madison, two of the new 1990s-era varieties, which resist major fungal diseases such leaf blast and sheath blight, already are planted on about 10 percent of the 2.5 million acres where rice is grown in the southern United States. Grain from the variety Dixiebelle, which loses less starch when parboiled, has become a favorite of the rice canning industry.

Jacinto and Cadet were the first U.S. public varieties developed through the fast-paced biotechnological process called marker-assisted selection. These two varieties, five years in the making instead of the usual seven to 10, were the result of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with a leading food company.

The marker research stemmed from observations that the texture of cooked rice from some noncommercial rice varieties differed according to their growing environments. Providing the first clear molecular explanation of genotype by environmental effects in any crop species, the research provided data that may help scientists as they seek ways to help wheat, oats and other crops resist adverse environmental effects like global warming.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Scientific contact: Anna M. McClung, USDA-ARS Rice Research Unit, Beaumont, Texas, phone (409) 752-5221, fax (409) 752-5720, a-mcclung@tamu.edu.

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