Increasing Rice Yield in Challenging Environments Due to Climate Change
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Rice is a major food for more than half of the 9 billion people of the world by 2050. Feeding these billions of people, having rice as their staple food, needs a 60% increase in rice production. Increasing rice production, however, will be a big challenge in changing climate. Mitigation and adaptation strategies to cope with these changes include crop and cultivar selection, proper seeding and fertilization time. New germplasm with improved traits, and genotypes with appropriate heat and drought stress tolerance have to be developed, planting and harvesting times adjusted, and fertilization rates and irrigation practices modified. Germplasm development and improved agronomic practices are the centerpiece in adaptation, a combination shown to produce positive results in increasing food production. With the increasing world population, changing climate and consumer demand for rice, the primary objective of this project to develop high-yielding rice varieties will continue in combination with other breeding objectives such as high-quality rice, and improved tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Advances in biotechnology will enhance breeder's efficiency in incorporating desirable traits to further improved rice yield and quality. Discovery of new genes and their utilization will likewise enhance the progress made in increasing production through breeding.The project will use known and new germplasm and new breeding technologies in the development of high yielding and stress tolerant breeding lines. However, it will continue the search for new donors and parents with important traits, develop new populations for selections and perform yield trials that will lead to varietal releases. Selection for higher grain yield, good long grain qualities, disease resistance (blast and sheath blight) and lodging resistance will be done on a regular basis but herbicide and drought tolerance, and seedling vigor at cool condition will be emphasized to address the attributes of the needed genotype in future climate change scenario. Important traits with markers for laboratory selection such as amylose content, seedling vigor and blast resistance will be done in collaboration with molecular scientists to further facilitate selection and varietal release. Important traits that will further increase yield and grain quality such as agronomic traits, resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, and tolerance to herbicides will be the main focus of genetics, breeding or biotechnology studies. Mutants related to tillering, chlorophyll development, leaf senescence, seedling cold tolerance and herbicide tolerance will be analyzed for inheritance, genes mapped and DNA marker developed. Breeding methods such as recurrent selection and rapid generation advance (generation advancement without selection) not popular in rice will be tried particularly to the newly identified germplasm. Studies related to better selection of parents and their progenies will be also be conducted.The developed breeding lines with high yield and stress tolerance will be useful in the future as parents in developing population for selection and may eventually release as a new rice variety while the new technologies, e.g. new genes and markers and genes, will be useful to rice breeders in increasing breeding efficiency, thereby hastening variety release. New varieties once adopted will help producer increase their production. Results will be conveyed to the rice science community, rice producers and science mentors through meetings and workshop.