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New Rice Stock Adds Good Trait to Genetic Collection

By Jim Core
May 28, 2004

New genetic rice stocks from the Agricultural Research Service add to the diversity available for rice breeders everywhere.

The latest rice genetic stock, called Guichao 2 eui, is significant because it marks the first time a gene for a key trait, called elongated uppermost internode (eui), has been found in an indica rice, the principle rice type grown in the world. The "eui" trait is beneficial for better pollen transfer in hybrid rice seed production because the male line panicles--the plant's flowering heads--are taller than female line panicles. It can also be used to raise the female panicles and make them more available for pollination.

This trait is the 11th addition to a new rice collection repository, called Genetic Stocks-Oryza (GSOR), that was established at the ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Ark., in August 2003. Genetic stock collections help preserve germplasm, such as plant seed, and these stocks have characteristics that breeders can use to create new lines with valuable traits.

J. Neil Rutger, director of the Stuttgart center, made the discovery in an indica cultivar grown there. The recessive gene that caries the eui trait was previously found only in japonica rice lines. Rutger made the original discovery of the mutant gene during the early 1980s in temperate japonica germplasm, the cultivars that produce short, sticky grains. But this trait has had its greatest use in indicas, so international breeders have spent a lot of time breeding the japonica source into indicas. The finding means this time-consuming practice is no longer necessary.

GSOR stocks currently include rice seed stocks produced in Stuttgart. Soon, more rice lines will be added. ARS, the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has recently committed to long-term storage and distribution of rice seed stock resources generated from National Science Foundation and USDA Plant Genome grants.

Seeds are available on request through the ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network or through the GSOR repository homepage.