Not all rice are created equal

Categories // Fresh hot rice... science

When was the last time you paid attention to the rice you've eaten? Did you ever get to notice the appetite-inducing if quite subtle smell, the good consistency or texture in your palate, or if, of course, its short- or long-grained?

Rice hasn't been created superior, however, on those accounts alone. Rice is an equally complex crop just like any other living organism that needs to survive, and if it can, flourish. And flourish it must do, but to do so, rice needs to be equipped to fend off any diseases and pests. One of the most feared by farmers are called brown planthoppers (BPH) since it can cause serious yield losses in rice.

Rice has a natural resistance against these pests, but not all rice crops are naturally resistant or tolerant in much the same way as not all people have the same level of immunity. In rice, this 'immunity' is controlled by what are called 'resistance genes' or simply 'R genes'. In the Indian variety called ADR52, Dr. Fujita from IRRI and his team found two genes that caused high deaths in pregnant BPH and their nymphs. ADR52 was crossed with a susceptible rice crop several times to isolate their effects and determine their genetic basis for resistance, as well as to map them out. Learn more from this journal article.