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Facilitating rice research through enabling technologies

Capitalizing on genomics, phenomics, and biotechnological disciplines we aim to fast-track breeding progress through big data-driven analytical techniques. We facilitate the adoption of the best technologies related to agronomy and agri-food science components in order to improve rice products and byproducts. We aim to strengthen partnerships, technology transfer, and capacity building for rice-based research-driven innovation. By sourcing, testing, developing, and translating enabling technologies, we support rice innovation to ensure food and nutritional security.

Challenge

Rice is part of the the staple diet for more than 3.5 billion people and an important sector of the agri-food industry, providing food and livelihood for more than half of the world's population. It is critical to the future of food security that we employ new technologies to ensure sustainable rice production, food safety, and build new value for consumers.

Response

To address food and nutritional security, IRRI harnesses genetic, genomic, and genome editing technologies for rice improvement. To reveal high-value breeding targets, we leverage sequencing information of breeding material across the globe, and mine big data to identify diagnostic markers linked to various agronomic traits. Various systems-genetics tools and breeding informatics methods being developed through partners and stakeholders will be utilized to support precision breeding and the needs of the agri-food industry.

Objectives

  • Facilitate adoption of state-of-the-art, high-throughput biological data generation, analysis, interpretation, and application to support pre-breeding
  • Strengthen partnerships and technology transfer in research-driven innovation
  • Source, test, develop, and translate enabling technologies for global rice research and make them accessible to all stakeholders
  • Build capacity and regional impact to create new value addition opportunities by linking through nutrigenomics to rice agri-food sector innovations

Scope

  • Genome sequencing and High-throughput Genotyping
  • Novel Phenotyping
  • Breeding Informatics
  • Wet-Lab Innovation (CRISPR)
  • Mechanization & Digitization
  • Rice-Agri food products and by-products derived from specialty rice varieties

Impact

By providing the means to measure accurate phenotyping data through high-throughput methods and to identify key genes through genomics, breeding informatics, and biotechnological approaches, we advance rice science to accelerate breeding, agronomy, and agri-food science components.

Adapting new front technologies to use sequencing data and big data analytical tools helps to identify DNA markers for breeding programs that address food and nutritional security issues in rice.

In the area of agri-food science, new technologies offer new ways to test and develop new rice products from specialty rices, which can be utilized to create new value addition opportunities to farmers and subsequently help to double the farmers income.

As a whole, we aim to invigorate rice research at the NARS level to improve efficiencies in local product development across breeding and agronomy.

Technology Transfer and Partnerships

Technology related to implementing high-throughput novel phenotyping tools at lab scale to mine nutritional traits, grain quality acceptance, and generating and testing food products will be a priority for generating outputs. Standardized novel phenotyping methods will be transferred under the scheme of new Tech Transfer at NARS / New Tech Services.

Employing high-throughput genome data-mining tools to capture rare alleles of target traits, big data artificial neural networks to find the patterns, and employing breeding informatics methods to fast track genetic gain will be part of Tech Activities, Tested and Adapted, Transferred and Training Partners.

Speciality rice with nutritional benefits and superior grain quality lines will be tested for new market opportunities, and these lines will be tested for development of New Rice Products and Byproducts through agri-food private partners.

Increased productivity and improved incomes are the ultimate goal to create impact in the regions of Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Africa.

  • Source: India, Japan, Philippines
  • Develop/Test/Adapt: Philippines
  • Transfer: Mozambique, India, Myanmar 
  • Train / Adopt / Radiate: Africa, South Asia, SouthEast Asia 

 

Scientific Achievements

  • Genotyping - >20 trait rice markers & purity markers sets available at <$0.15 per marker
  • Genotyping - two new DNA fingerprinting platforms available (7k Chip & 1k TSCA)
  • Genome Editing - two systems optimized for site-directed mutagenesis in rice
  • Remote Phenotyping - new multi-rotor drone platform developed & scaled out to partner sites, among others in the Philippines and India
  • Novel Grain Quality & Nutrition Phenotyping - novel methods to assess glycemic index (GI) of rice and combine with acceptable texture

Initiatives & Platforms

GOBII (Genomic Open-Source Breeding Informatics Initiative)

  • Develop & funnel breeding informatics technology from Cornell to CG centers
  • Develop marker systems & provide access to NARS through an external service provider

Excellence in Breeding Platform (CGIAR)

  • 5 modules across CG centers & crops: Breeding Excellence; Trait Discovery; Genotyping; Phenotyping; Bioinformatics

Centre of Excellence on Rice Value Addition (IRRI South Asia Regional Center)

  • Node of IRRI Education Program in South Asia
  • Promotes South-South collaboration
  • Facilities and services available to NARS