story to find out more.
Testing for rice blast resistance in genetically
engineered rice plants is done in various countries. Above, plant molecular
pathologist Yulin Jia samples a field in Colombia for the disease. Click
the image for more information about it.
U.S. Rice Collection Proves a Genetic Treasure
By Erin Peabody
July 12, 2006
Agricultural Research Service scientists
have discovered a few good rice plants--and are taking them to the bank.
The researchers, in their hunt for rice genes to guard against the
devastating rice blast pathogen Magnaporthe grisea, recently tapped the
countrys most diverse collection of rice. This genebank--the U.S.
Department of Agricultures (USDA) Rice
Core Collection--contains more than 1,700 rice plant accessions from more than
The ARS scientists, working at the
Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Ark., evaluated the
hundreds of accessions by growing and testing each one in the laboratory and
Led by ARS geneticist
Yan, the scientists discovered new rice genes resistant to blast. This
destructive disease impacts about 30 percent of the worlds rice plants
Finding new genes to counter disease, pests and other threats is central to
the longevity of all crops. But rice, which helps feed more than two-thirds of
the worlds population, especially benefits from continuous access to new
genetic material, or germplasm.
Thats because the crops nemesis, rice blast, has growers and
breeders engaged in a never- ending, tug-of-war battle. Farmers plant rice
thats expected to stand up to the blast-causing fungus. But in just a
short period of time, the pathogen finds a new way to overcome its weary host.
The blast resistance genes the Stuttgart researchers discovered should give
rice plants a needed boost. These findings are different from any resistance
genes currently available to the U.S. rice industry.
The USDA Rice
Core Collection is part of the ARS-coordinated
National Plant Germplasm System, a
cooperative effort by public and private organizations to preserve crops
genetic diversity. This collection is referred to as core because
it captures the essential genetic diversity contained in an even larger USDA
rice collection of 18,000 accessions. Working with a smaller core collection
streamlines breeders efforts to uncover valuable genes.
more about the research in the July 2006 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the USDAs chief scientific research agency.