Breeding better cereal varieties and improving crop management
Rice is the main source of nutrition for more than half the world’s population.
Australia produces around half a million tonnes of rice annually, and exports it to over 70 countries worldwide.
CSIRO is locating and characterising useful rice genes through international collaborations. We are also improving rice tolerance to cold and waterlogging.
Genomics is the study of all of the genes of an organism at the one time. CSIRO discovers and researches the function of many plant genes, which may be used to develop better plants.
CSIRO's Rice Functional Genomics project is locating and characterising useful rice genes. Through international collaboration we are developing tools to understand all of the estimated 40 000 rice genes. To find out more about this project please visit the Rice Functional Genomics Project.
CSIRO researchers are also collaborating on an international project that aims to increase yield and improve fertiliser and water use efficiency in rice crops by modifying the photosynthetic pathway in rice plants.
To find out more about this project please visit International C4 Rice Consortium.
Although a tropical plant, rice is grown in temperate climates where rice faces cold temperatures at the beginning and the end of the growing season.
Cold spells at the end of the season cause pollen sterility and massive losses in grain yield.
In Australia, rice is grown in southern New South Wales where cold snaps of less than 18 degrees celsius occur during flowering on average once every 3-4 years.
Cold conditions cause an average annual yield reduction of 5-10 per cent or about A$44 million with cold snaps reducing yields 20-40 per cent.
CSIRO is determining the molecular basis of cold-induced pollen sterility in rice. Cold represses sugar transport to the pollen grains, causing abortion of pollen development.
Two important genes have been identified that are involved in sugar transport and both genes are repressed by cold.
Research is identifying how cold represses gene expression. A microarray approach identifies genes that are expressed differently between cold-sensitive and cold-tolerant rice cultivars.
Useful genes could then be flagged with DNA markers and used to help breed Cold tolerant rice information sheet.
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