Researchers Develop Flood-Tolerant Rice

    A team of international researchers has developed “waterproof” versions of popular species of rice, able to produce high yields even after being submerged in water for up to two weeks.

    The new strains are on the verge of receiving official approval for release by governments in India and Bangladesh, where annual floods destroy enough rice to feed up to 30 million people.

    The international research team included participants from UC Riverside, UC Davis and the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.

    Julia Bailey-Serres, a genetics professor at UC Riverside, is currently leading research to explain exactly how gene Sub1A works to make rice varieties flood-tolerant by studying how plants with and without the gene respond to submergence in water.

    “Sub1A effectively makes the plant dormant during submergence, allowing it to conserve energy until the floodwaters recede,” Bailey-Serres said.

    The findings were published in the Oct. 20 issue of Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, USA.

    “The potential for impact is huge,” said Dave Mackillt, senior rice breeder at the IRRI. “In Bangladesh, for example, 20 percent of the rice land is flood prone and the country typically suffers several major floods each year. Submergence-tolerant varieties could make major inroads into Bangladesh’s annual rice shortfall and substantially reduce its import needs.”

    Developed through precision breeding, the plants are conditioned to avoid much of the regulatory testing that can typically delay the release of genetically modified crops.

    Researchers are hoping that the new flood-tolerant strains of rice, which have passed experimental tests in farmer’s fields, will be made available to smallholding farms within the next two years.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal