Genetic diversity

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Genetic diversity is the foundation of the genetic improvement of crops. IRRI seeks to understand rice genetic diversity and uncover new genes and traits in rice that will help rice producers face challenges brought about by climate change, pests and diseases, and other unfavorable conditions.

Although the vast catalogue of more than 40,000 rice genes has been mapped as a result of recent advances in biotechnology, most of their functions remain largely unknown. Thousands of undiscovered genes may have the potential to benefit rice productivity and quality and we are now working to decipher their functions using cutting-edge science.

This work draws together conservation of different types of rice, diversity analysis, gene discovery, and dissemination of advanced genetic and breeding resources. It presents a unique opportunity to maximize the use of conserved traditional and wild types of rice and modern rice varieties.

IRRI is home to the International Rice Genebank, the world's largest repository of rice genetic diversity, containing about 110,000 different types of rice from all over the world. With international treaties and agreements ensuring the equitable and responsible sharing and use of rice genetic diversity, IRRI provides seeds for free to farmers and researchers.

IRRI’s genetic diversity work is part of the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), Theme 1: Harnessing genetic diversity to chart new productivity, quality, and health horizons.


The International Rice Genebank - conserving rice
The International Rice Genebank, maintained by IRRI, holds more than 117,000 types of ricethe biggest collection of rice genetic diversity in the world. The genetic diversity of rice is used to breed new rice varieties.

Creating new rice
IRRI and its partners are using cutting edge science to discover the genes that will supercharge photosynthesis in rice, essentially creating a new type of rice that yields more while using less resources.

Sharing rice
IRRI provides seeds upon request for free under conditions, set by an international treaty, that ensure equitable and responsible use of rice. IRRI safekeeps rice types contributed by parties all over the world.

Browse rice data

Several online systems are available to help you find data on rice. Our crop informatics work provides support to research through a unified crop information system for data management, integration, and use. Our work promises quality-assured germplasm-centric data.



Former Deputy Director General for Research Dr. Achim Dobermann discusses the initiative's work on harnessing genetic diversity to chart new productivity, quality, and health horizons.

IRRI references